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Glasgow City Marketing Bureau reports best ever year end with new conference business worth £141 million

Year-end figures released by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau’s (GCMB) Convention Bureau show the growing value of business tourism to Glasgow’s economy.  
Working with the SECC, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow’s universities and the wider business community, GCMB’s Convention Bureau secured average conference revenue of just over £2.7 million every week between April 1 2015 and March 31 2016 to end the year on £141 million – the city’s best ever annual return.


Glasgow competes globally through GCMB and city partners to attract conventions business. In the last financial year the city confirmed 513 new international and UK meetings through to 2022, which equates to some 420,000 delegate days.  

The results demonstrate the continuing importance of the Glasgow Conference Ambassador Programme, which secured half (49%) of all conference business booked in 2015/16 compared to just 30% two years ago.  

Managed by GCMB, the programme supports in excess of 1,700 active ambassadors – drawn from the city’s academic, scientific, medical and business communities – enabling them to persuade their own sectors and associations to host a conference in Glasgow.  

Major conferences that took place in the city in 2015/16 included the European Association of Archaeology at the University of Glasgow; the International Space Planes / Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) as well as the European Association of International Education Convention and Diabetes UK’s annual congress, both of which were held at the SECC.  

Collectively, these four meetings brought more than 10,000 delegates to Glasgow; boosting the local economy by more than £15 million.  

Looking ahead, conference bids won in 2015/16 by Glasgow for future years and led by local ambassadors include:
·         The European Association for Chinese Studies in 2018. Led by Dr Minna Torma, lecturer in Chinese Art at the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts;  
·         The annual meeting of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology in 2019. Led by Dr Richard Russell and Dr Richard Hansen, both consultant paediatric gastroenterologists at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children;  
·         The International Conference on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 2021. This meeting was secured by David Koppel, consultant craniofacial / oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.  

Other standout conventions secured by GCMB and city partners in 2015/16 include:  
·         The World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2018. This meeting was won in partnership by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society working with GCMB and the SECC;  
·         The annual meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) in 2022, again won by GCMB and the SECC in partnership with BAD.  

Together, these five conferences will attract nearly 12,000 delegates from across the UK and overseas to Glasgow in the next six years, injecting more than £20 million into the city’s economy. In winning these meetings, Glasgow beat off strong competition from Prague, Stockholm, Lisbon, Vienna and London.  

Aileen Crawford, GCMB’s Head of Conventions, said: “Our year end results are a clear endorsement of the confidence that the global meetings industry continues to have in Glasgow and further strengthens our reputation as one of the world’s premier business tourism destinations.  

“Glasgow is a great example of a city that understands the relevance of its knowledge hub economy. In 2015/16, nearly half (48%) of all conference business confirmed to Glasgow for future years was in our key economic sectors of life sciences, medical, energy, sustainability, low carbon industries, engineering, financial and business services – which represents 10% growth on the previous year.  

“The importance of our world-class Ambassador Programme in that cannot be understated. Our ambassadors are experts within their specific industries and working closely with them ensures that we’re aware of the trends and latest research developing in their fields. As these figures show, understanding the value of those developments for conference planners is driving Glasgow’s competitive advantage.”  

Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at the SECC, added: “Once again, Glasgow is demonstrating its position as a major UK and international conference location and we are delighted that the SECC continues to be a strong economic driver for Glasgow and Scotland.  

“The continued growth in our conference sector is a reflection of the SECC’s on-going commitment to further developing its well established conference business and our partnership with the wider stakeholder community is crucial to our success.”  

A report issued last month by meetings industry body the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) showed that Glasgow attracted more international delegates in 2015 than major competitors including New York, Munich, Washington, Dublin and Beijing and held more international conferences than Melbourne, Geneva, Chicago, Florence, Cape Town and Los Angeles.  

Nearly 37,000 overseas delegates visited Glasgow last year, placing the city 28th overall in ICCA’s index of 400 cities globally. ICCA is the global leader within the meetings industry with more than 1,000 members in 90 countries.  

Reflecting Glasgow’s highest ranking for 10 years, only London, which ranked second worldwide with more than 117,000 delegates, featured ahead of Glasgow in the UK and no other UK city made it into the top 30. At the top of the ICCA rankings, Vienna attracted the most international delegates (124,000) followed by London, Barcelona (108,000), Berlin (104,000) and Singapore (77,105).  

Glasgow also recorded its greatest ever number of international conferences held in a single year with 54 meetings taking place in the city in 2015 – of which 17 were staged at the SECC, accounting for almost 80% of overseas delegates.

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