A typical tourist to Edinburgh stays for two days, visits the Castle, avoids the Scottish Parliament and thinks the city is too expensive.
But visitors who took part in a survey gave an average eight out of ten for service at the city’s attractions, restaurants, cafes, shops and pubs.
They said they liked the friendly people and the fact everything was close together – and the thing people most commonly said could be improved was the weather. Most said they were considering coming back within two years.
Tourism market research company LJ Research, run by Lynn Jones, a former head of research for Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board, contacted 1500 people on the streets of the Capital last year and questioned them later online.
The Castle proved the most popular attraction, followed by the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Museum, with the Scottish Parliament bottom of the list.
Sixty per cent of those in the survey were visiting Edinburgh for the first time. More than a third got here by plane, a quarter by train and the rest by car.
The survey found most visitors came to the Capital on a short break. Hotel rooms accounted for 49 per cent of overnight stays, with mid-range hotels the most popular choice (20 per cent).
Sixteen per cent stayed in guest houses or B&Bs, 12 per cent in hostels and 13 per cent with friends or relatives.
The expense of their trip was identified as being an issue for 27 per cent of visitors both from the UK and overseas. But Ms Jones said: “This is not a major concern as most visitors remain satisfied with their visit, but it is an area to keep an eye on, especially in relation to competitor destinations.”
She added: “What came out loud and clear here is how much tourists love their whole experience, so Edinburgh is in a great position to capitalise on its strengths.
“If you can’t always compete on price and weather, you can ensure everyone leaves feeling they’ve had a great time and received good service and value.”
Asked what elements of the city were most impressive, 68 per cent of those surveyed mentioned the Capital’s architecture with the picturesque setting, the atmosphere and the fact everything is close together also highly rated.
When asked what they did on their visit, walking around the city, shopping and visiting attractions were the three most popular activities. The Castle and “friendly people” were the most common answers from overseas visitors asked about the best aspects of their trip.
Tom Buchanan, convener of the council’s economic development committee, said: “Edinburgh is a destination second to none and we continue to attract record numbers of visitors each year with many returning time and again.”