HOLYROOD will hear today about the “truly devastating” impact the UK Government’s hostile immigration policy is having on Edinburgh’s festivals.

Gordon Macdonald, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, will lead a Scottish Parliament debate focusing on the problems attracting international guests to the events.

He said that since the Tory Government introduced hard-line visa controls, applications for performers had been hit by refusals, errors and delays, with some acclaimed international acts forced to cancel trips to the city’s festivals.

Organisers had previously described the visa process for performers as “humiliating” and “Kafkaesque”.

The SNP has repeatedly warned that the UK’s one-size-fits-all approach to immigration is failing Scotland and that it needed an immigration policy suited to our specific circumstances and needs.

Ahead of the debate, Macdonald said: “Edinburgh Festivals is the world’s largest arts festival and Edinburgh is well recognised as the world’s leading festival city.

“With audiences of a staggering 4.5 million, the festivals generate an incredible economic impact of £280m in Edinburgh and £313m in Scotland in total.

“Our reputation is being damaged and our international positioning being put at risk because of the UK Government’s hostile immigration policy.

“Artists are facing a humiliating application process. Their visas are being refused. And, due to the inaction from the UK Government, artists are being deterred from coming here.

“Last year, the international book festival had about a dozen individuals struggling to obtain a visa and, the year before, their own artist in residence couldn’t get over.

“In 2017, the Arab arts showcase had a third of their visas denied.

“Quite frankly, this is an utter shambles and completely unacceptable.”

Macdonald said the festivals relied on a “seamless flow” of artists from around the world and the UK Government had to listen to the sector to ensure that Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK were open for culture.

“If they won’t listen, then they should devolve immigration and let the Scottish Government get on with building a fair and functional immigration system,” he said.

His motion, which has attracted cross-party support, “believes that the situation can only worsen after Brexit; notes the calls on the UK Government to seek a more streamlined approach, in light of festival programmes reportedly being hit by visa refusals, errors and delays”.

It also noted Holyrood’s appreciation of the work of SNP MP Deidre Brock, for her support and her urgent request to meet the UK immigration minister to discuss the matter.

Project manager of the Arab arts showcase, Sara Shaarawi, added: “We had a crew member that was refused because he’d never been in the UK, when in reality he had been in the UK with a show in 2009 and in 2012. We had a Palestinian artist who applied twice and one of the refusal letters spoke repeatedly about their circumstances in Egypt, when in reality he wasn’t based in Egypt. One letter was simply empty, they didn’t remember to fill in the ‘reason of refusal’ section.

She continued: “We paid for premium services which should take five days and it would actually take weeks, we dealt with unnecessary delays and anxieties and were given no reason as to why passports were being held.”