There is a special place in my heart for the Scottish festival of the Peach, and the festival’s return to Edinburgh is no exception.
With the first batch of festival-goers due to arrive this weekend, the arrival of the first ever Peach-themed music festival in Scotland has prompted the Scottish government to ask for an extension of the festival.
The extension is due to expire in 2019, and as a result, the Scottish Government’s application to extend the festival has been granted.
The Scottish Government hopes to extend its programme of events by around 10 years, which is a great boost for the economy of Scotland and the wider UK, but the question is how will the Scottish economy adapt to this change?
The Scottish government’s appeal was granted by the Scottish Court of Session, and it is due for review in 2019.
The court heard that the Scottish Parliament’s Budget, announced in March 2019, did not contain any money for the festival, which was due to be held at the National Exhibition Centre in Glasgow.
However, the Government’s appeal stated that “there is a considerable amount of support for the [purchasing] of the National Park Service’s land” for the Festival of the Peaches, and that this was the only alternative available to it.
The Government argues that “the only way to get the Peacock Festival back to the Edinburgh Exhibition Centre is to apply for an exemption from the budget”.
The Scottish Government has until March 19 to respond to the appeal, and if it does not respond, the Appeal Court will have the final say.
So, will the Peas be back in Scotland?
If the Scottish state was to continue to operate the Peach festival in 2019 and 2020, the festival would be a part of the state’s economy, but if it was to be pulled out, the Peach could be a lost cause.
It is true that Scotland’s economy has been hurt by the economic downturn and is facing a “significant deficit” of £30.7 billion in 2020, and while the economic impact of the economic uncertainty of Brexit may have helped mitigate this, the impact of a major tourism and entertainment event is not something the economy can recover from.
In 2020, Scotland has about 6,500 visitors per day, and over one million people were on a tourist visa in 2021, according to the Scottish Tourism Board.
If the festival were to continue in 2019 or 2020, those numbers will fall, and tourism would become even more of a challenge for the tourism sector, particularly in the tourism-dependent regions of the south of Scotland.
There is also the question of the size of the economy, and how will it adapt to a major festival.
The first annual Peach Festival of Scotland has generated about £8.4 million for the local economy in 2019/20, and in 2020 the economic boost will only be worth around £7.6 million.
However, the budget for the 2019/2020 budget includes the cost of a second annual festival, as well as the costs associated with the Scottish Olympic Committee and the Scottish Rugby Union.
Although the Scottish taxpayer has been bailed out in 2019 by the introduction of a 10-year extension to the state budget, the current budget is expected to run out in 2020/21, and even if the Government were to find money for another 10 years the amount of money allocated to the Peach in 2019 is likely to be less than the amount allocated to it in 2020.
There are also questions of whether the festival will actually get better for the wider economy, as the Scottish tourism industry has been hit hard by Brexit, with some of the industry’s largest companies leaving the country in recent years.
As a result of this, Scottish tourism is unlikely to see any major improvements in the local or global economy, which could also make the Peach less popular in the long term.