Good to write home about
Business tourism is booming in Scotland, says Mairi Mallon
TOURISM in Scotland conjures up images of tartan, lochs and loudly dressed American sightseers. But conferences and big business meetings are an increasingly important and profitable part of Scotland’s tourism industry.
Now bosses at VisitScotland want to increase the number of business visitors by 50% by 2015 and have set aside resources to market Scotland as a business destination and are working with the conference bureaux from all of Scotland’s cities to make it a reality.
“This is an exciting time for business tourism in Scotland and, as a result, our marketing budget has doubled in recognition of the importance of business tourism,” says Scott Robertson, UK marketing manager for VisitScotland’s specially dedicated business tourism unit which has 16 employees now.
“This has enabled us to develop new markets and sectors, and raise the profile of Scotland as a business destination. We believe we have a truly unique destination here, offering a wide range of venues from mountain tops to the world’s first rotating boat lift and many more in between, which ensure delegates have a new and stimulating experience each time they visit.”
Conferences have a huge impact on the Scottish economy, bringing in tens of millions of pounds a year with thousands of delegates travelling from far-flung lands to Scotland.
They are not only spending money on flights and hotels, but also on eating, drinking, buying gifts and even going to the theatre – so are a huge boon to the economy.
According to VisitScotland, business tourism is worth £905m to Scotland – 21% of all the country’s tourism revenue – and most of the business visitors who come in are from the United States, Germany and Spain.
Last year there were 58,000 business tourists from the United States who stayed a total of 451,000 nights and spent £40m. The average length of stay is over a week and each person spends £686.
With new direct flights coming on stream all the time, there is increasing access from all over the world. Scotland is first choice for many, not only because of state of the art conference centres but also unique locations surrounded by dramatic scenery.
There is also a mix of traditional and contemporary venues as well as a dynamic business environment and, of course, the warmth of Scottish hospitality.
Scotland is now being promoted as the place in the UK to have conferences on everything from science to industry to insurance.
At the moment, 30% of all association conferences held in the UK are hosted by Scotland. Edinburgh and Glasgow are second only to London in the UK in terms of number of meetings.
Scotland is keen to attract more conference visitors as the companies and organisations they come from have big budgets, spending on average nearly double that of other tourists.
The SECC in Glasgow is the site of Scotland’s £62m National Arena