Having previously been held in the likes of Barcelona, Lisbon, Istanbul and Oslo, the Meetings & Incentives Forum Europe, Summer 2015 is coming to Scotland for the very first time on 29 June.
The event, which will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), is expected to give the capital an economic boost of nearly £1 million.
The successful bid for the M&I Forum Europe, which will see more than 7,500 meetings take place in the space of only four days, was put together by the Business Events team at VisitScotland.
It will see 380 influential event planners from across Europe and the UK being introduced to 290 European suppliers, with 40 partners from around Scotland among those hoping to win big business at the event.
Scottish companies taking part include The Gleneagles Hotel, Glasgow Science Centre, The Royal Yacht Britannia, Crieff Hydro, Trump Turnberry, and VisitAberdeen.
Approximately 75 per cent of the buyers – who boast a combined purchasing power of £575 million (£1.7m each) – work for event agencies. The remaining buyers are corporate event planners representing the likes of Renault, Johnson & Johnson and Canon.
Among the big-name suppliers from around the world are the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Hilton and Royal Caribbean International.
Taking place from 29 June to 3 July 2015, the main workshop for the conference will be held in the new Lennox Suite at the EICC. Delegates will be accommodated at The George Hotel, The G&V Royal Mile Hotel, Radisson Blu Edinburgh, Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa and Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian.
In addition to the conference, VisitScotland is organising a series of familiarisation (fam) trips, allowing buyers to extend their stay and explore other parts of Scotland, such as Glasgow and the West Coast, the Highlands, Aberdeen, Fife and Perthshire. Around 100 have already signed up to take part in these trips.
Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, will officially welcome delegates at the Sheraton. Gosford House in East Lothian, meanwhile, will host a Scottish festival of activities, which will include Highland Games, golf, country pursuits and a food and drink village.
Organised by Worldwide Events, the Edinburgh forum is the biggest M&I Forum taking place this year, with others being held in Dubai, the Philippines, Florida, Malta and Austria.
Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, said: “Business tourism is an incredibly important strand of the tourism industry in Scotland. Not only does it reinforce Scotland’s credentials in key industries. It provides exceptional opportunities to build worldwide links and networks for key industry players in Scotland.
“Business visitors are often influencers in corporate location and inward investment. Conferences represent a great opportunity to showcase Scotland as a place to live, learn, invest in, buy from and visit – again and again.
“Yet again we see Scotland winning another internationally renowned conference, coming to the country for the first time, emphasising the outstanding work being conducted by those involved in the business tourism industry.”
Amanda Ferguson, Meetings and Incentives Marketing Manager at VisitScotland, said: “Quite simply, Scotland has never before hosted an industry Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) event on this scale. Not only will it provide us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase Scotland to hundreds of lucrative buyers from across Europe and the rest of the UK, but the event itself will also provide a significant economic boost for Edinburgh. “Business tourism is worth nearly £2 billion to the Scottish economy and this event will ensure that this country continues to punch above its weight in this key industry.”
Fiona Fraser, Senior Business Tourism Executive for Convention Edinburgh, said: “The opportunity to have more than 380 event planners visit Edinburgh and experience the full conference and events offering first-hand is immensely valuable to the city and our members. From the world-class facilities at the EICC, to enjoying gala dinners at unusual and unique venues such as Gosford House and the National Museum of Scotland, buyers will have a truly unforgettable experience and we are confident will go on to book future events in the city.”