Johnstone queries Marketing Edinburgh chief hotel comments

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, today questioned comments by John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, in which he supported plans to turn the Royal High School into a luxury hotel and the controversial redevelopment of the St James Centre.

Both projects have been criticised by heritage experts amid concerns that they could result in the city losing its World Heritage status.

Mr Donnelly told a business website: “If Edinburgh wants to be a premium city, it has to behave like one.”

And of alternative plans for the Royal High, he said: “A music school will not add to Edinburgh’s attraction from an international point of view.”

Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Greens candidate for Edinburgh Central in 2016, said: “These patronising comments show how out of touch Marketing Edinburgh’s boss is. Internationally-recognised built heritage and culture are what makes our capital city so special, and we ignore that at our peril.

“The proposals for the Royal High are out of character and aimed at catering for luxury jet-setters when instead we could be encouraging more meaningful ideas to preserve our wonderful skyline and enhance enjoyment and opportunities for people who live here, as well as those passing through. Edinburgh is clearly a tourism magnet but we must not trample over the unique selling points that bring visitors here in the first place.”