New Scottish business tourism industry group’s £1bn aim

The partnership behind the launch of Business Tourism for Scotland group, reported by CN on 8 October, has released more detail of the new body set up to contribute to boosting the country’s business tourism industry through to 2020.  

The new strategy, says the group, is designed to break from the status quo and achieve an annual visitor spend of between £5.5bn and £6.5bn in Scotland by 2020.

The BTfS group says it will partner with Scotland’s economic agencies, and will represent a combined effort to support business tourism in Scotland in identifying a pathway for growth alongside the industry’s umbrella body, The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA).

Working through the STA, BTfS Chair Judy Rae, Head of Events at Glasgow Science Centre, believes the group can create a stronger voice for the industry as well as contributing to sectoral growth.

Rae said: “Demand for business events in Scotland has never been stronger. There has been significant investment in major facilities in Scotland’s cities; new direct air routes are opening up regularly and the success of the major events which have taken place in 2014 has showcased Scotland’s ability to deliver on the global stage.”

BTfS has come about to identify the big picture opportunities that can best be exploited at a national level, and by industry itself. There are currently 15 members of BTfS, representing all corners of Scotland and its industries: hotels, venues, universities, PCOs, DMCs and city convention bureaux.

BTfS will be concentrating on three projects: building a better understanding of the scale and nature of the industry and demonstrating its economic contribution; developing various communications platforms so that industry can find relevant intelligence, useful tools and be inspired by case studies to learn from their peers; and developing initiatives to capture untapped opportunities.

Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, said: “Business tourism brings high spending visitors who are looking at Scotland as a shop-window. Their expenditure has significant downstream potential, which may come in the form of inward investment, new orders for Scottish companies, or a repeat visit with the family. I am therefore delighted to support the tourism industry and their partners in the launch of Business Tourism for Scotland.”

Head of VisitScotland’s Business Tourism unit, Neil Brownlee, has joined BTfS as a key member and says the new grouping “gives us another collaborative angle from which to engage with the most experienced, specialist operators in Scotland”.

Funding for the project is provided by economic development agency Scottish Enterprise. SE’s Aileen Lamb says BTfS will turn up the volume for business tourism in Scotland. “We are delighted to see the industry taking the lead and spotlighting opportunities for growth”.

A recent report commissioned by BTfS from Tony Rogers and TEAM Tourism Consulting valued business event tourism expenditure in Scotland in 2013 at £1.3bn. The 2012 MPI Economic Impact study valued the economic impact of business tourism to Scotland at £1.9bn.

The BTfS vision is to see the economic impact of business tourism grow from £1.9bn to £2.2bn (i.e. by 15%) over six years.

Photo L-R: Steve Harris (Chief Executive, VisitAberdeen), Karene Aitchison (Sales and Development, Stirling Court Hotel) and Judy Rae (Head of Events, Glasgow Science Centre and Chair, Business Tourism for Scotland)

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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