Good to write home about

Busi­ness tourism is boom­ing in Scot­land, says Mairi Mal­lon

The Herald Business - - Special Report -

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

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