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A decade of conference business equates to a staggering £1.2 billion for Glasgow

As Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) marks a decade of promoting the city to the rest of the world, one of the UK’s leading academics has praised Glasgow’s successes alongside world leading destinations in a new book about urban destination marketing.  
Dr John Heeley, a Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University and Director of, has cited Glasgow as a world leader for its city marketing, alongside Vienna, in a new review published in the International Journal of Tourist Cities entitled: “Urban destination marketing in contemporary Europe – what does “good” look like?”

This endorsement from one of the tourist industry’s leading academics comes as GCMB celebrates its ten year milestone by announcing that business tourism secured since its inception has been worth a staggering £1.2 billion to the city’s economy.  

The Bureau today (Wednesday, May 13) revealed that in the past decade it has secured 3,323 domestic and international conferences in conjunction with Glasgow’s venues, academic institutions and city partners.  

More than 1.2 million conference delegates have spent 3.8 million nights in the city’s hotels during this time with delegates accounting for up to one in five hotel beds sold in Glasgow; underscoring the importance of conventions business in driving local economic growth.  

Today’s announcement also comes as GCMB reported its best ever conference sales for the past financial year.  

The Bureau together with city partners including the SECC, the universities, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, venues and hotels, secured conventions business worth £140 million in 2014/15 – almost £2.7 million of new business per week – representing a 3% year-on-year increase.  

Between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, 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 504 new international and UK conventions through to 2022.  

Among the major conferences won by Glasgow in 2014/15 were:
• The Congress of the International Academy of Pathology 2020
• The European Society of Hypertension and the International Society of Hypertension’s (ESH/ISH) Joint Scientific Congress 2020
• The World Congress of Soil Science 2022  

In winning these meetings, the city beat off worldwide competition from Beijing, Singapore, Italy, Switzerland and Cancun.  

This year, in a UK poll for influential industry magazine Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT), Glasgow was again voted the UK’s Best Convention Bureau ahead of the likes of London & Partners, Liverpool Convention Bureau, NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau and Marketing Edinburgh.  

The record-breaking accolade means that Glasgow is the first UK city ever to collect the top prize over nine consecutive years.  

The highly prestigious annual M&IT poll collects votes from more than 4,500 meetings industry professionals through an independent audit with more than 13,000 votes cast across its award categories.  

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “We couldn’t hope to celebrate our 10th birthday with better news; we’ve secured £1.2 billion of conference business with nearly four million hotel bookings, during a decade when global competition has been increasingly fierce.  

“The figures are nothing short of remarkable and a huge vote of confidence for Glasgow. They underpin 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 close partnership network that exists between the different players across our conventions sector, from our venues, especially the SECC, our five universities and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 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.”  

John Heeley, Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University and Director of, said: “The convention department of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau – alongside Vienna Convention Bureau – is widely acknowledged by conference industry experts and practitioners as the best of their kind in Europe.  

“The fact that GCMB knocks the spots off of other UK convention bureaux is confirmed by the M&IT awards, and its achievements in this field are down to the scale and quality of its marketing and sales operations, undertaken with a trademark city partnerships approach and a real hunger to succeed, as referenced in my newly published review.”  

Glasgow has also reaped success with match funding support over the past 12 months with VisitScotland’s conference bid fund. Launched in March 2012, 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 match funding, GCMB and city partners have confirmed nine conferences including the World Congress of Basic Clinical Pharmacology 2022 and the International Congress on Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions 2019.  

In the last decade, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, together with the SECC and city partners, has brought a clutch of major world leading conferences to the city and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.  

Councillor Matheson added: “The past ten years have been a huge success story for Glasgow during which we have welcomed the world’s most esteemed minds to our great 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 2022 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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