Head of the VisitScotland Business Tourism Unit (BTU)
“As with many sectors, this year will be a challenging one for business tourism in Scotland in light of the predictions of a global recession. However, the sector continues to drive forward to meet challenges head on with Scotland attracting a number of major International and European conferences for 2009. There are several events during the year such as the European Academy of Design Annual Conference in Aberdeen, the Second European Ramularia in Edinburgh and the European Light Microscopy Initiative in Glasgow which will bring in further significant economic benefit to the country.
“It is to our advantage that association conference organisers do not work to short lead times. Most major events, such as the 1000-delegate Congress of the European Association for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (EACPT) coming to Scotland in June have been booked for at least two, if not four or five years. April and May will see almost 7,000 delegates visiting Edinburgh alone for 12 international association events from the fields of medicine to finance.
“Scotland’s reputation as a centre of excellence in fields such as medicine, life sciences, electronics, software and energy will help it to continue to attract high calibre international association meetings. A high proportion of all association conferences attracted to Scotland come as a direct result of an invitation from a local member of an organisation or professional body. The VisitScotland and City Convention Bureaux Ambassador Programmes will continue to work with professionals at the top of their fields to encourage their professional international associations to bring their conferences to Scotland in future years. Our success in this field is borne out by the fact that more than 25% of international association meetings hosted in the UK take place in Scotland.
“But that isn’t to say that the industry is complacent. Whilst the conference calendar for 2009 is comprehensive, our job, along with our industry partners, will be to ensure that the pipeline of confirmed events for future years flows throughout what may be a ‘belt tightening’ year for many businesses and organisations. Business tourism represents 20% of total tourism expenditure in Scotland so it’s a vital sector especially in tougher economic times.
“Scotland competes for business tourists against all global destinations. As we’re operating in times when it’s increasingly important for businesses to deliver cost effectiveness, it’s good to remember Scotland offers a distinct and exceptional range of world class facilities. Due to current exchange rates, it is even more attractive to European visitors offering great value for money and easy accessibility.”
DUNDAS CASTLE, BY EDINBURGH DOES EXECUTIVE BOARD RETREAT IN STYLE
Deliver a world class meetings and event programme for a multi national audience of around 30 from a well-travelled, blue chip company.
Offer privacy for confidential meetings; options for varied and exciting cultural activities; opulence for sleeping and ease of access for world travellers.
Providing a fresh, new, unique experience for a group of executives and their partners who have ‘been there and done that’ on most of the world’s continents, is a challenge which Scotland readily rises to. An annual event, entering its fifth year, required an original approach for 2008 – as well as experienced, safe and welcoming hands to trust.
With Dutch cultural event organisers Event Design acting on behalf of the client, five-star Dundas Castle by Edinburgh was selected as the exclusive-use venue for the 2008 event; partly due to the team’s professional experience in executive corporate meetings and also the venue’s ease of accessibility being close to Edinburgh city and airport.
The suite of elegant reception rooms and purpose built meeting rooms gave the group its own luxurious retreat. Exclusivity was further enhanced by the 1000 acre estate surrounding the 14 bedroom opulent stately home. The Beehive boardroom situated on the lower floor of the castle, with its own business centre and reception room, offered the level of confidentiality which was essential for the client.
Event Design’s Director, Evelyn Hompes, stated that “Dundas Castle proved to meet all our expectations and it was the ideal settlement for our idea!”
Working in partnership, Event Design and Dundas Castle devised a thoroughly Scottish theme running throughout the activities, entertainment and menus by sourcing the highest calibre of contractors from within Scotland. Guests could partake in golf on the Dundas course or 4 x 4 driving in the Scottish countryside and, while the executives were involved in the business of the day, their partners visited historic, underground Edinburgh, the Royal Yacht Britannia and learnt more about tartan from a world authority while watching a contemporary Scottish fashion show.
A grand finale including full Highland dress for the gents; a ‘guest’ or should it be ‘ghost’ appearance by Robert the Bruce; Scottish story telling; starters on the move in the castles medieval tower’s many chambers; dinner in the Croquet Room dressed with specialist lighting, original candelabras, pewter goblets and charger plates; and a raucous clan battle gave the visitors a memorable end to their four day stay.
Scotland on the go
By Claire Quinn
With a world-wide reputation as one of Europe’s most alluring destinations, Scotland is an ideal location for European, North American and indeed British corporations seeking a sophisticated international venue for meetings, events and incentive programs. Scotland has optimal accessibility, serviced by five main international airports (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Prestwick and Inverness) which together reach over 150 international destinations. Combining history and innovation, this small, northern European country is a vibrant, thriving, contemporary location where corporate groups can entertain their clients at an historic castle, organize a fun-filled team-building day on a country estate, or hold a glittering reception in a stylish city centre venue.
For those considering Scotland as a corporate travel destination their first port of call should be the Visit Scotland website here they can find information from the Business Tourism Unit (BTU). This business/group travel division can advise on the vast array of conference, exhibition, meeting and incentive venues and activities in Scotland. Business tourism plays an important role in the Scottish economy; with an economic benefit of £1 billion a year and 20% of total tourism spend. Looking to the future the BTU’s mission is to expand the volume and value of discretionary business tourism to Scotland by 75% before the year 2015. Visit Scotland will be happy to supply Scottish support materials for promotional use: information booklets and guides, including a wide range of Visit Scotland publications on events, sports and activities, and places to visit. For centuries, Scotland has delivered the perfect combination of world-class science, technology and business capabilities set against dramatic locations and warm, welcoming people. As a result, Scotland has a long heritage as the perfect meeting destination for kings of the past and great political leaders of the future. From the traditional to the unique it can offer incomparable golf, whisky distilleries, luxurious spas and hotels, designer shops and enchanted castles.
Scotland’s venue offering has continued to grow, and as a result, the international community, Fortune 100 companies and the entertainment industry are looking at Scotland as the destination for meetings.
In particular, Scotland is the undisputed “Home of Golf” hosting the 2004/2005 British Open at St. Andrew’s. Across the country you can find more than 500 golf courses, including championship courses and world-renowned golf clubs. Whether you’re hosting a seasoned enthusiast or someone new to the sport, Scotland’s golf courses provide a broad spectrum for all levels. Let’s not forget the Donald Trump £1bn super-course soon to be built in Aberdeenshire, sure to impress any client.
It also goes without saying that Whisky, “water of life,” is Scotland’s national drink and has been produced in the country for longer than anyone can imagine. As one of Scotland’s biggest earners, the country boasts 300 whiskies that are locally distilled. Clients can become expert “nosers” of whisky by following the world’s only “malt whisky trail,” sampling a dram or two in Speyside, visiting Islay for a “peaty” malt, or taking a tour of Scotland’s distilleries. The many distilleries throughout the land can host convention and corporate events, executive entertaining and whisky dinners in facilities that range from large, high-tech reception centres to impromptu guided tours through a real working environment.
Unique to Scotland and probably Western Europe is Highland Adventure Safaris, Scotland’s premier Landrover safari company. This family run business entertains guests at its Safari Lodge Visitor Center near Aberfeldy, and takes visitors into remote, high mountains to see Perthshire’s magnificent scenery and spectacular wildlife. The company offers unique corporate entertainment packages and team challenges geared toward businesses and conventions. It also has the added accolade of receiving the First Gold Award for eco-friendly tourism in Scotland. Scotland has always been a hub for new ideas and innovation, its national culture of exchanging opinions has created large city conference centres specifically designed to open the floor to hundreds and thousands of delegates. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen all boast first-class purpose-built conference centres and offer first rate service standards to match. Host your conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, situated in Scotland’s historic capital this venue holds up to 2000 delegates. Or try Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre – the UK’s largest integrated exhibition and conference centre catering for groups up to 10,000. Whilst it currently has an impressive capacity, Glasgow’s SECC will soon benefit from the addition of a new £62mn purpose-built arena. A more scenic option is the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre; located in the North East of Scotland and surrounded by some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery this centre can host groups up to 2,000.
New to Scotland in 2009/10 work will begin on Glasgow’s Jumeirah’s five-star, super deluxe hotel. Opening in spring this year will be the Blythswood Square Hotel (one of the city centre’s most famous historical buildings) following a £17 million investment. The five star hotel will have 88 bedrooms and complete conference facilities. Also, Edinburgh-based Apex hotel group opens its fourth contemporary four-star hotel in the city’s Waterloo Place where the £35million hotel will feature 187 contemporary bedrooms, a large, theatre-style conference suite and five additional meeting rooms.
Scotland’s venue offering has continued to grow, and as a result, the international community, Fortune 100 companies and the entertainment industry are looking at Scotland as the destination for meetings. Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital known as the “Athens of the North,” alone has hosted more than 50 conferences in just 2005. Furthermore, when the 2005 G8 Summit chose beautiful and vibrant Perthshire to host this international political gathering, it brought further attention to Scotland and showcased the country’s quality of facilities and reputation for attracting and hosting major events. Other significant international events include World Renewable Energy Congress 2005 and the annual Edinburgh International Festival. More recently Scotland has played host to international companies such as JP Morgan, Amazon.com and McGraw Hill.
An important and beneficial aspect of Scotland’s Tourism development is its sustainability. In 1997 Visit Scotland formed the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) to encourage businesses to reduce their environmental impact. The scheme covers issues such as business efficiency, environmental management, waste and transport, as well as topics like social responsibility and biodiversity. A recent poll by responsibletravel.com suggested that Scotland was the leading eco tourism destination in Europe. Visitor attitude surveys show that Scotland’s wonderful environment is its most important tourism asset and nearly 90% of visitors said that one of Scotland’s most important attributes was its peace and quiet. To encourage Scottish venues and accommodations to institute green practices, Scotland’s GTBS introduced an accredited Visit Scotland Quality Assurance program called Green Business UK Ltd. The scheme now has over 600 members and is the largest and most successful environmental accreditation body for tourism businesses in Europe. In addition GTBS has founded a Sustainable Tourism Unit ( STU) to promote cultural and environmental low impact activities, while helping to generate income, employment and foster conservation.