On the second anniversary of the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund, it has been revealed that 46 international association conferences – going up to the year 2021 – have been secured.
Almost £106m is set to be generated from the national tourism organisation’s Bid Fund investment of £936,000, which has been match-funded by local authorities from around the country for selected not-for-profit conferences.
The conferences, which are set to attract a total of around 62,000 delegates, cover everything from life sciences and education to food and drink and renewable energy.
Scotland’s four biggest cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, have all been making use of the Bid Fund, with other conferences taking place in the likes of Perth, St Andrews, Stornoway and Shetland.
Addressing delegates at Scottish Tourism Week at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh today, Mr Ewing said: “The impact of tourism on Scotland’s economy is already hugely successful.
“According to research carried out by Deloitte on behalf of VisitScotland, tourism contributes £11 billion annually to the Scottish economy, with tourism supporting the employment of 270,000 people in 20,000 diverse businesses.
“As these latest VisitScotland figures illustrate, business tourism is vital because, as a result of attracting business events, it helps grow the Scottish economy beyond tourism.
“In the last two years, VisitScotland’s Conference Bid Fund is bearing fruit, helping attract high-yield, high-spend international conferences to Scotland.
“Our tourism sector must continue to be imaginative, innovative and deliver an excellent quality of service and a rich and fulfilling holiday experience for our visitors.”
Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Tourism at VisitScotland, said: “This remarkable figure is testament to the close partnership and collaboration around the country which sees local authorities at city and regional level, colleges, universities and venues, all pulling together with VisitScotland and the Scottish Government to get these prestigious conferences ‘over the line’.
“Not only does hosting these conferences enhance our credentials in these target sectors, but business tourism is a key sector itself. It supports conference centres and hotels throughout the country, and also hundreds of other operators not normally associated with tourism. The Conference Bid Fund has been instrumental in bringing these conferences to Scotland, and we are delighted by its success.
“It also highlights the long-term potential and sustainable nature of business tourism and business events.”
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: "I'm delighted that some 70 per cent of the economic benefit to Scotland driven through the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund has been generated by bids led by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.
“Over the two-year period of the bid fund, in addition to the 25 conferences secured to the city in partnership with VisitScotland and the Scottish Government, GCMB has won a further 840 domestic and international conferences through to 2021, beating off strong competition from some of the world’s leading conference destinations, including Tokyo, San Francisco, Paris, London, Lisbon, Vienna, Helsinki and Budapest.
“The Bid Fund has helped to reinforce Glasgow’s status as a world-class business tourism destination."
Professor Aaron Quigley, Chair of Human Computer Interaction at University of St Andrews’ School of Computer Science, successfully bid for two computer conferences last year with help from the Fund.
Prof Quigley, who is also part of VisitScotland’s Ambassador Programme, said: “The VisitScotland Conference Bid fund allowed us to secure two leading international conferences called UIST (User Interface Software and Technology) and ITS (Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces) in St Andrews in October last year.
“The Fund allowed us to attract the conferences and win local support long before the events and to ensure we could deliver a world-class conference experience. I would like to thank VisitScotland for its support – before, during and after the conference.”