Capital enjoys strongest ever quarter for conferences and events.

Published: 11 August 2014

Conference bookings have soared in Edinburgh, with Convention Edinburgh reporting record first quarter results. We spoke to Lesley Williams, the head of business tourism for Convention Edinburgh…

What's the good news from Convention Edinburgh and what will this mean for the local economy?

The good news is that Edinburgh has just enjoyed its strongest ever quarter for conferences and events. The 41 future conferences and events that were booked during the first three months of the financial year will bring over 16,000 delegates to the city and generate an estimated £20.9 million for the local economy.

When the delegates are here they’re spending in bars, restaurants, shops and visitor attractions, so they’re generating revenue for local businesses, as well as the conference venues and hotels.

I also think there’s a new vibrancy around the city, particularly since the construction works around the tram were completed, and with the uplift in the economy. Whichever way you look it, Edinburgh is an attractive city to visit, whether it’s for leisure or business.

What is driving this? What kind of work have you been doing in the background?

With new air routes opening up it’s easier to get to Edinburgh from further afield. There are new long-haul routes from Edinburgh including Chicago, Philadelphia and Doha, and five new short haul flights including Zurich and Stavanger. Whenever a new route opens up it’s a prime opportunity for us to promote Edinburgh.

We’ve been more active in Europe and we’re also looking to increase business from North America, because of the new air routes and also the opening of the new VisitScotland office in Toronto.

What kind of meetings and events are in the pipeline?

We target events that mirror Edinburgh’s areas of expertise, including life sciences and renewables. A lot of international conferences come here from the medical sector, and financial services and creative industries are important aswell.

Specific events include the European Aquaculture Society convention and the Association of Art Historians conference in 2016 and the Cleft Lip/Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies conference in 2021.

We’re also seeing a real resurgence in the incentives market, which has been quiet over the last few years with the recession. Edinburgh is a great destination for incentive trips because the culture of whisky, golf and tartan means we can create really unique and memorable packages for people.

Why is this such an important market?

There was a recent economic impact study that estimated the value of business tourism to the Scottish economy as £1.9 billion in gross value added (economic output), so it’s a hugely important industry. As well as boosting the economy and being good for jobs, there’s another benefit that you can’t measure but is really important.

That’s about the knowledge sharing and collaboration that takes place when you bring experts into the city from all over the world. So these results are really positive and show we’ve been working hard in collaboration with our members.

The more things we can do together to promote the city in a joined up way, the better it is for incoming conferences.

Convention Edinburgh is the business tourism arm of Marketing Edinburgh, which promotes Edinburgh internationally.




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