IT’S the Christmas season which lasts seven weeks and there’s not a present in sight. For rugby people, the Six Nations is Yuletide, Easter and the summer holidays rolled into one: the best sports tournament bar none, with gatherings of old pals and adversaries (and the avoidance of some) in familiar haunts in the host cities, and where somehow money seems to lose its value when it’s game weekend.

While supporters can dissolve unnoticed in the great London and Paris conurbations, the arrival of the rugby circus in Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh and even Rome is unmissable, unmissable certainly from an economic point of view.

If money somehow becomes no object for supporters once the first jar is sunk, the host cities reap the benefit; RBS estimates the tournament is worth £52 million to the Scottish economy, £30m of which goes to Edinburgh. Visiting supporters are responsible for £35m (£24m in Edinburgh) spent almost entirely on accommodation, food and drink; lots of drink.

It’s one reason I’ve long been in favour of the principle of a tourist levy in premium destinations like Edinburgh if the required bureaucracy is kept to a minimum and significant revenue generated and reinvested. When visiting rugby supporters shell out £150 to briefly share a bog-standard hotel room with a snoring, farting, bum-scratching old chum, the last thing on their minds is whether a fiver has gone to support local services; similarly Festival visitors, although there might be fewer course elements.

This Saturday’s home opener against Ireland, thankfully granted clemency by the BBC’s fixture wreckers with a 2.25pm kick-off, means Edinburgh will be heaving and the promise of another big spending weekend when the Welsh come mob-handed on February 25. There won’t be hordes of Italians over for the last fixture on March 18 but Murrayfield will still be near capacity.

Edinburgh is very fortunate to have this annual shot in the arm, along with the festivals and Hogmanay, fortunate because for decades the capital has obstinately failed to fully grasp the opportunity to create significant year-round attractions for different markets in the way Glasgow has done with the SECC and the Hydro.

Hogmanay is the big exception, where virtually from scratch the city council built a series of events now said to be worth just short of £200m, even if it does mean residents having to cough up £25 to enter their own city centre.

Yes, the International Conference Centre was a bold and necessary move but, for years, its lack of capacity was a real handicap in the international convention market, only addressed two years ago with the addition of the £30m Lennox extension. Work has started on a new £45m, 1,000-seat concert hall in St Andrew Square which will be home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. But while welcome, it’s hardly the Hydro ,which seats 13 times more people and, at £125m, was less than three times as expensive.

Complacency in Edinburgh has long been the great danger and a new Cities Outlook report from the Centre for Cities charity paints a picture of average performance across a broad range of indicators and the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision findings published by Edinburgh City Council yesterday will do little to change the impression. Neither does Glasgow emerge from the Outlook report as best in any class.

Despite the Brexit rhetoric, the report shows that, of 62 British cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh actually rank 54th and 56th for the share of their exports to the EU. Edinburgh is one of only five places with above-average productivity but below-average exports per job, illustrating the extent to which the city relies on the rest of the UK.

With above-average exports and productivity thanks to energy, the bright spot is Aberdeen, sitting sixth in the tables for value per worker, patent registration and EU exports. But, Brexit apart, the omens are not good, with an increase of 20 per cent in business failures in 2015, the lowest net private sector jobs growth, the worst for ultra-fast broadband and the biggest slump in house prices.

Dundee’s reputation as the sick man of Scotland is borne out by the figures: a 27 per cent business closure rate, 57th for private sector job creation, second lowest proportion of private sector jobs, second worst record for house building and, at 63.5 per cent, the lowest employment rate. Perhaps reflecting the importance of the gaming industry, the only highlight is its place in the top 10 for ultra-fast broadband.

So perhaps a bit more Six Nations-style co-operation and competitiveness across the whole country is called for. Come on, Scotland.