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World heritage opportunities

Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature

Date : 18/12/2014

Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage status, coupled with its UNESCO City of Literature designation, offers wide-ranging opportunities for tourism operators to boost their business. Businesses can do a number of things to more effectively exploit Edinburgh’s UNESCO accolades; for instance why not highlight these accolades on your website, provide information about the city’s built environment and literary heritage, or collaborate with other organisations and businesses to develop new authentic and unique visitor experiences?

68% of visitors to the city come to experience Edinburgh’s history, and it’s built and cultural heritage. We know that almost 95% of visitors choose to walk around the city as their preferred activity, predominantly within the heart of the City’s Old and New Towns. With this in mind, tourism businesses have an opportunity to utilise Edinburgh’s UNESCO designations to increase their visitor numbers through improved marketing and/or new product or service offerings. 

Edinburgh World Heritage and the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust have worked jointly with the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) to provide information and support for businesses who would like to capitalise on these assets. 

Tools and guides

Both Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust offer a range of tools, advice and information to help you understand more about the opportunity for your business. 


Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and ETAG, have produced a range of information resources, including an online toolkit to get you thinking about how you could capitalise on the potential for literary tourism.

If you’re not sure where to start, ETAG recommends the Literary Tourism Business Toolkit which is packed with ideas on how to make literary tourism work for you, tips on enhancing customer experience and contacts for organisations that can help.

There are also individual resources targeted to tourism businesses:

• ETAG Business Opportunities: Edinburgh UNCESCO City of Literature Guide
• The Literary Tourism Innovation Fund
Literary Tourism Business Toolkit 

Explore these and many other resources for yourself on the Edinburgh City of Literature resources page.


Edinburgh City of Literature has a list of the apps and guides available for literature fans, and many are free. For instance, there’s the Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh personal tour which guides user around the city to locations described in Rankins books.

Why not direct your visitors to the Edinburgh City of Literature website for inspiration?

Literary Tourism Innovation Fund

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, ETAG and Scottish Enterprise have recently developed the Edinburgh Literary Tourism Innovation Fund. It provides financial support and expert advice for tourism businesses looking to collaborate in the development of new products and experiences themed around literature.

The first round of the fund has been awarded, and a second will be available in 2015.

Find out if you are eligible and how to apply on the City of Literature’s Innovation Fund pages. 

A new Heritage Tourism Strategy

A new Scottish Heritage Tourism Strategy will be launching in January/February 2015. Announcement will be made very soon and we will follow up this article with news on that when we have it.

Further reading

Edinburgh City of Literature 
Edinburgh - A World Heritage City Business Opportunity Guide 
Edinburgh World Heritage 
Other world Heritage sites in Scotland are St Kilda, New Lanark and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.