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Conference business worth £1 billion to Glasgow since 2005

Business tourism secured by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) since its inception in 2005 has been worth £1 billion to the city’s economy.  GCMB today (Monday, June 3) revealed it had reached the milestone on the back of more than 2,200 domestic and international conferences brought to the city in partnership with the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) over the past eight years. 

More than 800,000 conference delegates have spent 3.3 million nights in the city’s hotels during that time. Delegates now account for one in five hotel beds sold in Glasgow, underscoring the importance of conventions to the local economy.  Today’s announcement comes as GCMB reported its best ever conference sales for the past financial year, which helped the city break through the £1 billion barrier. 

The bureau, SECC and city partners secured conventions business worth £153 million in 2012/13 – almost £3 million of new business per week – representing a 27.5% year-on-year growth. Between April 1 2012 and March 31, 2013, GCMB’s Convention Bureau, which competes worldwide to bring conference business to Glasgow, worked with the SECC and a range of city partners to confirm 450 new international and UK conventions through to 2021. 

Among the major conferences won by Glasgow in 2012/13 were:
  • The International Society for Biomechanics Congress in 2015  
• The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Vehicular Technology Conference in 2015  
• The International Federation for Orthopaedic and Manipulative Physiotherapy Conference in 2016  

In winning these meetings, the city beat off worldwide competition from Sydney, Beijing and Melbourne.  

Additionally, the Glasgow Conference Ambassador Programme helped secure a third of all conference business booked by GCMB in 2012/13. The Programme accounted for more than £50 million; its best return since it was introduced as the first of its kind in the UK in 1990. 

Managed by GCMB’s Convention Bureau, this influential network has in excess of 2,000 members – drawn from the city’s academic, scientific, medical and business communities – and provides high level support to these key individuals to enable them to persuade their own industries and associations to host a conference in Glasgow. 

Over the past eight years, Glasgow Ambassadors have delivered conference business worth almost £280 million to the city’s economy. 

Earlier this year Glasgow City Marketing Bureau was named the UK’s best convention bureau for an incredible seventh year in a row. At the influential Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) industry awards, held in London in March, GCMB beat off strong competition to secure the coveted title ahead of London, Liverpool and Manchester – becoming the first organisation to collect the top prize seven times and over consecutive years. 

The annual award is considered highly prestigious because it’s voted for by more than 3,000 global meetings industry professionals. 

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “To have secured £1 billion of conference business and more than three million hotel room bookings, during a period when global competition in the market has been incredibly fierce, is nothing short of remarkable and underpins why we are not just the UK’s conference capital, but one of the world’s premier business tourism cities. 

“This milestone achievement is testimony to the fantastic partnership working that exists between the different players across our conventions sector, from our venues, especially the SECC and our five universities, to our hotels, restaurants, transport providers, local ambassadors and all the other conference service providers that consistently strive to ensure Glasgow maintains its position as a first choice, global meetings destination.”

Glasgow has also reaped success over the past 12 months through support from VisitScotland’s £2 million conference bid fund. Launched in March last year, the fund is aimed at helping cities across the country put together the best possible bids and attract high-yield conventions linked to Scotland’s areas of expertise in industry, commerce, science and medicine. 

Through the bid fund, GCMB and city partners have confirmed 18 conferences – which will inject almost £55 million into the city’s economy – including the International Conference on Nuclear Cardiology in 2015; the International Federation of Nurse Anaesthetists in 2016; the International Congress of the World Federation of Haemophilia in 2018 and the World Biomaterials Congress in 2020. 

Over the past eight years, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, together with the SECC and city partners, has brought a clutch of large-scale, high-profile conferences to the city and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead. 

These have included WorldCon – the World Science Fiction Convention – in 2005, the European Renal Association in 2006 and the World Congress on Pain in 2008, which together brought 15,000 delegates to Glasgow. 

In summer 2010, Glasgow hosted the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Gas Turbo Expo – the world’s premier gas turbine exhibition – having beaten off strong competition from Paris, Brussels and Geneva. 

That same year the city hosted the prestigious World Parkinson Congress – the first time this conference had been held outside of the US. Together, these conferences attracted more than 6,000 delegates and provided a near £10 million boost to the local economy. 

John Sharkey, Chief Executive of the SECC, said: “Glasgow enjoys an enviable reputation across the global conventions market as a destination that delivers on its promises.  “At the SECC we’re proud to have played an intrinsic role in bringing meetings of all sizes – including some of the largest and most prestigious in the world – to Glasgow over the past eight years and we will continue to work as one team alongside Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and our city partners to deliver future success.” 

Later this year, Glasgow will host the Liberal Democrats’ annual Autumn Party Conference in 2013. The city beat off strong UK-wide competition to secure the five-day event, which will take place at the SECC in September. 

Over 7,000 delegates will travel to Glasgow to attend the conference, which will inject almost £12 million into the local economy and provide a welcome boost to the city’s hotels, restaurants, shops, bars and other businesses.  

Not only will it will be the largest conference held in the city since the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society in 2004, which attracted 15,000 delegates, it will also be the Lib Dems’ first autumn party conference in Scotland for more than a decade.  Councillor Matheson added: “The past nine years have been a huge success story for Glasgow during which we have welcomed the world’s best minds to the world’s best city and this achievement is the perfect springboard from which to ensure the next decade is as equally successful. 

“Glasgow City Marketing Bureau has confirmed business on its books through to 2021 and is bidding for new conventions business as far out as 2024 – the most exciting thing about Glasgow is that there is still a lot more to come.”

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