Royal mile, Mediocre experience.

Why do people come to Old Town? The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust went out and asked the visitors themselves.

Most said they wanted to see the Royal Mile’s historic character and visitor attractions.

But they were put off by the plethora of retail shops and what they had to offer. They went as far as to say that the vast majority of the shops were the least authentic aspect of visiting the Royal Mile.

Visitors came looking for high quality and authentic Scottish products. Instead, they were offered alcohol and lower-quality mass produced items and products, most of which were not produced in Scotland.



Not good for visitor satisfaction.

Not good for Edinburgh or Scottish producers.

Probably not good for global warming either ?

Visitors didn’t stop there.

They told Edinburgh World Heritage that the Royal Mile is losing its local character.

They described their experience of being on the Royal Mile as being ‘surrounded by foreigners’ and not ‘hearing local Scottish accents’. 

But does any of this really matter ?

Yes !

The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust’s conclusion on the state of the Royal Mile could be described as one where our much loved high street is slithering down the slippery slope of mediocrity towards being just another “tourist ghetto”.

Bad news for residents still living on the Royal Mile.

Bad news for the Royal Mile’s long-term appeal.

Bad news for it’s economic potential

And a massive opportunity for :

  • Original Edinburgh Business Improvement District (proposed)
  • Planning Committee at the City of Edinburgh Council and
  • Licensing Committee at the City of Edinburgh Council

to reimagine our Royal Mile so that is once again, fit to be in the centre of where we live, the Edinburgh Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site.


To see our report, click Our Streets (November 2017).

To see the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust research summary, click Perceived-authenticity-of-the-Royal-Mile (July 2019). This was written by Neringa Kavaliauskaite Xiaoxuan Jin and Nicholas Hotham.

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