New figures released by Glasgow Convention Bureau this week show the increasing value of business tourism to Glasgow’s economy and highlight the city’s growing success in attracting international associations and medical and life sciences meetings.
During the 2016/17 financial year, Glasgow secured 526 conferences for future years through to 2022. This will bring an additional 140,000 business tourists to the city and contribute an estimated £142 million to the local economy over the next five years.
Glasgow Convention Bureau, which is part of Glasgow Life, competes globally to attract conferences to the city and is supported by key partners such as the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow’s universities and the wider business community.
Previously, this role was carried out by the city’s former destination marketing organisation, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB), however a merger earlier this year between GCMB and Glasgow Life – Glasgow City Council’s cultural, sport and learning body – led to the creation of the city’s new convention bureau.
The number of international associations choosing Glasgow annually as their conference destination has risen 63% from 43 to 70 between April 2012 and March this year – with 2016/17 reflecting the most successful year yet.
Aileen Crawford, head of conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, said: “Glasgow is now recognised as one of the world’s leading conventions cities.
“The volume of international associations choosing to bring their conference here has grown by more than 60% over the past five years, which is a reflection of the strength and global reach of our academic and business communities and their wider knowledge hub networks.
“Medical and Life sciences sector conferences attracted a record number of delegates to the city in 2016/17 and it was the best performing sector in terms of the number of conferences confirmed for future years. That’s because we’re at the epicentre of medical innovation and world-leading research.
“Glasgow is home to the largest medical physics research division in the world, not to mention Europe’s largest super-hospital, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, and the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC); the UK’s most advanced NHS cancer centre.
“Since 2014, medical and life sciences conference business has increased 56% and the 158 conferences secured in 2016/17 alone will contribute some £63m to Glasgow’s economy by 2022.”
An example of a major medical and life sciences conference won by Glasgow in 2016/17 is the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) annual congress.
It will be held in the city in 2019, following Vienna next year, and is expected to bring 2,500 delegates to Glasgow, injecting £4m into the local economy.
Euan Woodward, executive director of EASO, said: “Glasgow beat off stiff international competition from the likes of Dublin, Helsinki and Maastricht to be chosen as the destination for our 2019 congress.
“Host cities are selected through a competitive bid process and it was thanks to a passionate presentation by professor Mike Lean, the University of Glasgow’s chair of Human Nutrition and consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, alongside Glasgow Convention Bureau’s outstanding bid and the wider support from the city which convinced voters to pick Glasgow.”
Kathleen Warden, director of conference sales at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), added: “Glasgow continues to be a major player in both the UK and international conference markets. The collaboration across the city with our partners, which includes an exceptional partnership with Glasgow Convention Bureau, is a great asset to organisers and something which we value enormously. We look forward to continuing to be a key economic contributor to Glasgow and Scotland in the next financial year.
“Following the successful rebrand of the venue, we have started the year with a very strong run of new business wins and have been delighted to welcome a varied range of events to the campus, including KFC, TedX and the British Association of Urological Surgeons.”