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Edinburgh targets Chinese incentive cash

Multi-million pound developments to include hotels and more than 40,000 sqm of shopping space

Pictured: Convention Edinburgh's Lesley Williams

Edinburgh hopes a building boom will help tempt Chinese mega-incentives to the Scottish capital.

Swathes of the city are currently undergoing redevelopment, including a 127-bedroom HUB by Premier Inn, an £8 million revamp of the Royal College of Physicians conference facilities, a £20m project to convert Georgian townhouses into a four-star Courtyard by Marriott, and an £18m transformation of the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, all opening this year.

But with Chinese incentive groups’ love of shopping in mind, longer-term projects are whetting the appetite of the city’s convention bureau, Convention Edinburgh.

Chief among these is the £850m St James Quarter development, due for completion in 2020. The project will include 42,000 sqm of shopping space over three levels, a 210 bedroom five-star hotel, a swathe of premium office spaces, an aparthotel, a theatre and 138 flats.

Work is also taking place at South St Andrew Square, where a £75m development will include retail and international restaurant chains.

Chinese incentives have become big business, with the Tiens Group famously taking 6,000 staff to Paris, Nice and Monaco last year. Meanwhile, the Bicester Village Chic Outlet Shopping Centre in Oxfordshire is positioning itself as a shopping destination of choice for incentive groups – particularly from Asia.

Lesley Williams, head of business tourism at the bureau, said: “These developments are part of a continuous programme, and we are very excited by them. It’s important because along with the hotels included as part of that, there is more than 40,000 sqm of shopping space. We are looking to develop the Chinese market, so that will be very good for Chinese incentives. 

“It gives additional strength to the business tourism offer, right across the board.”

New routes through Edinburgh Airport have been added in the past year, including Abu Dhabi and Doha, have helped open up Edinburgh to the Asian market, while there are efforts to secure a direct route to China. “It’s made it easier to connect with Asia,” Williams added.

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