Scotland’s E-CAL project gathers momentum

Edinburgh’s hoteliers are backing the city’s plans to secure Scotland’s first direct flight from China, following the announcement Edinburgh Hotels Association (EHA) will be the second major sponsor of the Edinburgh-China Air Link project (E-CAL).

Delivered and funded by Marketing Edinburgh, Edinburgh Airport and The City of Edinburgh Council, E-CAL is a collaboration of private business and public organisations hoping to make this high-value direct carrier route a reality.

Representing 50 of Edinburgh’s leading hotels, EHA joins luxury family jewellers Laing Edinburgh, who signed up to the project’s inaugural official sponsor in January 2017.

Chinese visitor numbers to the country have increased 230% in the last 10 years. Edinburgh is the number one UK destination outside of London, attracting 82% of Scotland’s total Chinese inbound visitor market, which reached a value of £25.78 million in 2016, accounting for 71% of Chinese visitor spend in Scotland overall.

A direct airlink is seen by many from across all industry sectors as the pivotal next step in strengthening business connections between Scotland and China.

This year, China became a top five source of investment to Scotland, including investment in the energy sector and travel giant Ctip’s acquisition of Skyscanner for £1.4 billion, with a project to create 200 new jobs in Edinburgh.

Commenting on the sponsorship, EHA chairman Tristan Nesbitt said: “As the unified voice of Edinburgh’s hotel industry, Edinburgh Hotels Association is thrilled to become a sponsor of this landmark tourism development for Scotland’s capital.

“It’s evident the popularity of Scotland and Edinburgh as a destination for Chinese visitors has snowballed over the past five years and with no signs of it slowing down, a direct flight from China is the natural next step.

“We’re eager to support this project as it gains momentum, and hope Edinburgh soon becomes the gateway to Scotland for Chinese visitors.”