With so many cultural attractions around the city, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Edinburgh’s main industry was tourism. But it is also the second largest centre for financial services after London, and can now boast the world’s first Green Investment Bank.
Established in 2012, the bank was the result of a government-funded initiative aimed at encouraging investment in low-carbon projects around the UK. Friends of the Earth originally helped to get the campaign for a ‘green’ bank off the ground, with planned investments including offshore wind, biomass heating systems, and other alternative sources of energy.
Green deals totalling £2.1 billion
Glasgow benefited from one such loan, reportedly for £6.3 million, to replace street lighting in the city with low-energy bulbs. An investment of £50 million was also made for an energy-related project that used heat from waste water and turned it into power for Scottish buildings.
Of course, projects from around the whole of the UK have been funded by the bank, but the fact that its headquarters are located in Edinburgh demonstrates the city’s status as a leading global financial centre.
A prominent financial services sector
The financial services sector in Edinburgh employs thousands of people in the area, who enjoy lower costs of living when compared with London. On the other side of the coin, asset management and insurance organisations, as well as banks, have developed in the city, taking advantage of cheaper rents and costs of employment.
Newer banks setting up their offices or headquarters in the city have an enviable choice of traditional and modern buildings to reflect their brand. Virgin Money, Sainsbury’s Bank and Tesco Bank all now have a presence, further boosting jobs and the city’s economy.
Unsurprisingly though, tourism remains one of the largest industries here.
Second most visited city in the UK
In 2013, Edinburgh was the second most popular city in the UK for tourism. Its reputation for being a clean, unspoilt city in addition to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, brings around 3.5 million visitors each year.
As a gateway to Scotland, the city attracts thousands of Americans and other international tourists keen to take advantage of Edinburgh’s numerous cultural, shopping, eating and music destinations.
In fact, in recent years the overseas tourist market rose in comparison with domestic visits from within the UK. The Scotsman reports that visitors to Edinburgh Castle increased by 26% during the summer of 2013, with November bringing the highest ever hotel occupancy levels.
Combining business and tourism
Edinburgh’s strong reputation as an event destination results in a meeting of the two industries. The many international delegates attending corporate events in the city can enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer, and take advantage of Edinburgh as a major transport hub.
For the people of Edinburgh, a rich economy and the vast number of cultural attractions on the doorstep, provides a high quality of life both in terms of work and leisure.
Author: John Baird is a personal finance and insolvency expert from www.scotlanddebt.co.uk. He specialises in advising people on how to manage their money and deal with their personal debt problems.