Cash boost to Conference Bid Fund
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing has announced a £1 million investment from the Scottish Government to help attract major international conferences to Scotland.
The money will be made available in 2015/16 through the Conference Bid Fund, which provides financial assistance through match funding to Scottish destinations bidding to host eligible conferences.
Mr Ewing made the announcement at a VisitScotland business tourism conference taking place in Edinburgh this morning, ahead of a Parliamentary debate on Tourism that will take place later today.
Since its introduction in 2012, match-funded commitments from the Conference Bid Fund have already helped secure 72 conferences over the next seven years. It is estimated that this will bring in 84,000 global delegates and generate £143 million for Scotland’s economy, in return for just £1.4 million of spending commitments.
This constitutes a gross return on funding from Scottish Government and other partners of over £50 for every £1 – making this potentially one of the most successful funding schemes ever run in Scotland, and delivering economic prosperity to Scotland’s tourism sector.
Announcing the funding, Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “This £1 million in funding for the Conference Bid Fund will ensure continued support for destinations aiming to bid for major international conferences.
“Our business tourism sector is a key driver of growth, and makes a strong contribution to the economic vitality of Scotland’s key tourism destinations.
“Not only do international conferences bring tens of thousands of delegates to Scotland, but they also act as shop window for all our country has to offer, thereby encouraging return visits.
“The many events that have taken place in Scotland as part of the Year of Homecoming, including the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, have attracted millions of extra visitors to Scotland, creating a successful tourism legacy for years to come.
“It is vital that we continue to build on this success by providing support to our business tourism sector, which has long benefited from Scotland’s reputation as a world-class conference venue destination.”
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted that the success of the Conference Bid Fund has been recognised with this new investment. Conferences position Scotland in key industry sectors globally, and reach into the academic and investment aims of the country as a whole. As we have seen from 2014, events raise the profile of Scotland, and business events are no different.
“I would encourage destinations and regions throughout Scotland to seize this renewed opportunity to bring international conferences to their area, whether for 50 or 5,000 delegates. We have conferences booked in Scotland as far out as 2024 – not even the Olympic Games has that long a lead time.
“This new investment allows Scotland to capitalise on the exposure of 2014 and continue to drive conference business into all corners of the country to the benefit of many small and large businesses across the whole economy.”