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Posted on Fri 30th Aug, 2013 in: Uncategorized by Aberfield

Never thought we'd be hailing an animal as our influencer of the week, but Tian Tian, the 'maybe, maybe not' pregnant panda at Edinburgh Zoo, takes the coveted title this week. The nation is officially on cub alert, waiting with baited breath to see if the female giant panda gives birth to the first cub to be born in the UK in the next fortnight. As a cute panda fan, I'm as eager as the next person to see the new sprog - but it's the influence Tian Tian will have, and has had already, on the Scottish tourism economy that's making her my pick of the week. Such is the air of expectancy over the mere possibility of her giving birth that pre-booked viewing slots to see her and her panda hubby Yang Guang are now sold out for days in advance. The media are camped outside the zoo, waiting for news, and people are going mental on 'panda-phernalia' in the zoo shop, with cuddly panda toys alone selling at a rate of 5,000 a week. A report by Scottish Enterprise estimates the panda pair will generate almost £28 million in visitor spending for the Edinburgh economy alone during their 10-year stay, with an extra £19 million spent in the wider Scottish economy. Their stint at Edinburgh Zoo has also strengthened Scotland's relationship with China, according to the Scottish government. Figures from May found that the pandas have already led to a 51 per cent increase in visitor numbers at Edinburgh Zoo, and the maybe-mum-to-be even received a special one-off Scottish Thistle Award for services to Scotland's tourism industry. Tian Tian, get yourself on commission! With brands still cashing in on the royal birth, inevitably the same will happen for the potential birth of panda cubs. Phones will be ringing off the hook at VisitScotland and Edinburgh Zoo - hopefully press officers will have something else to say except for "not yet"? soon enough.

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