Yes or No, Edinburgh hotels and bars win big in Scottish vote

Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:08am EDT
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By Alistair Smout

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland's independence vote is too close to call, but the owners of hotels, pubs and restaurants are already jubilant as thousands of journalists and tourists descended on the ancient streets of Edinburgh.

As Scots cast their ballots in Thursday's vote, which would break apart the United Kingdom if Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has his way, tourists shopped for whisky and tartan in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, while the world's media filmed reports to beam across the world.

In the hometown of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of "Treasure Island", hotels are full and the inns echo with locals sounding off on politics and tourists toasting with Scotland's most famous tipple.

"It's been incredible," said Andrew Burns, leader of Edinburgh's city council, adding that he had "never experienced anything like it".

"Everything is packed, busy and vibrant," he said.

Set on hills beside the sea, Edinburgh's elegant Georgian avenues and medieval lanes are used to a burst of tourism during its International and Fringe Festivals in August, but the vote has added a swarm of journalists to the mix, and next week the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Perthshire, will bring another influx.

Returning to Scotland for the first time since 1973, the golf tournament between teams from Europe and the United States is expected to attract 45,000 spectators a day.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said the city already had the highest revenue per room in the United Kingdom outside London and the highest occupancy rate.   Continued...

People arrive to cast their vote at Portobello Town Hall near Edinburgh, Scotland September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett