A new must-have app for East Lothian's residents and visitors

Visit East Lothian has launched a new tool to help visitors and residents enjoy its stunning coastline and avoid overcrowding and queues. The innovative, intuitive and practical Visit East Lothian App uses sensor data captured live from eleven of East Lothian Council’s coastal carparks, allowing users to check the ‘busyness’ of these areas before setting out or while travelling to the destination. The FREE App is available on Android handsets from the Google Play Store and for Apple handsets from The Apple App Store.

East Lothian has some of the most scenic and visited beaches in Scotland and these can become very busy – especially in the summer. With the ‘staycation’ market set to continue and the impact crowds have on the fragile environment, the East Lothian team responsible for managing the destination took action to develop a product which can help to protect the area and ensure visitors can enjoy East Lothian in a safe and responsible manner.

The Visit East Lothian App has a traffic light system to help visitors and residents avoid busy hotspots. Users simply search for their preferred parking location – green means quiet, amber means getting busy and red means very busy. The App makes it easy to check other locations nearby and find a quieter spot. The main facilities and amenities at each beach can be seen at a glance. East Lothian Council staff on the ground have the ability to manually add and update details, so that those looking to visit the beach will have the most up to date and reliable information on how busy the area is, and how and where to avoid adding to congestion, to help them and others have an enjoyable experience. The App is also a handy guide to the destination. Users can search for places to eat and drink, things to see and do, as well as towns and villages to visit to complete their day. Those planning a longer trip can search from the wide variety of accommodation in the area.

The App covers the East Lothian coastline from Longniddry to Skateraw and uses real time data provided by sensor and mapping technology developed by EDINA and the IoT innovation teams at the University of Edinburgh. The project is at the forefront of Scotland’s Traveltech work enabling the use of technology in the tourism industry, in hospitality businesses and by visitors to maximise their travel experience.

Jamie Baker, Service Manager, Economic Development, East Lothian Council said: "The creation of the Visit East Lothian App has been a great example of collaborative working between East Lothian Council teams and the University of Edinburgh departments to help solve a visitor management issue and produce an extremely useful tool for visitors and locals alike. This innovative App is really easy to use and we hope that people will download it and keep referring to it when they are thinking of visiting our coast and also to find out about the wider East Lothian destination offer." 

Elaine Carmichael, Visit East Lothian said: "We are delighted to have launched the Visit East Lothian App which is a great new asset at the forefront of using innovative technology in a visitor management capacity. The App is just one of the exciting initiatives that have been delivered by the Visit East Lothian team in response to the Covid-19 pandemic all of which aim to ensure that tourism, which is a major contributor to the economy, continues to flourish. It links to the brand new Visit East Lothian website which has also just been launched." 

Joshua Ryan-Saha Director - Traveltech for Scotland said: "This project shows what data can do to help tourism in Scotland. Capturing and sharing live ‘busyness’ data with visitors to East Lothian’s beaches will mean that more people will be able to enjoy more of the coastline and its local businesses, more of the time, without places becoming too busy. This technology has the potential to help even more tourism destinations better manage their hotspots. It is just one of many data-driven initiatives at the University of Edinburgh, part of its commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City and Region Deal, which attracted £270m of government investment." 

Gavin McLachlan, Vice Principal and CIO, The University of Edinburgh said "This project is a great example of the innovative data driven solutions that the University of Edinburgh is creating with partners as part of the City Regional Deal for Edinburgh and South East Scotland. The University’s EDINA and Data Technology teams have combined live IoT sensor data and geospatial mapping into an intuitive mobile application. We have created a real time information system to support and inform sustainable tourism by reducing impacts of excessive car journeys and over capacity visits on the environment and the local communities for whom these natural beauty spots are their home."

Published: Friday, 29th April 2022