Set up in 2012, the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund has helped to secure dozens of business events throughout the country – in a range of venues across all seven cities, such as the SSE Hydro – with some conferences booked in as far ahead as 2022.
The Bid Fund money awarded is based on match-funding subvention either by a destination organisation or local authority. The conferences must also tie in with Scottish Government target sectors, including aerospace, defence and marine; business processing operations; chemical sciences; creative industries; education; energy; financial services; food and drink; ICT and electronic technologies; life sciences; textiles and tourism.
Delegate numbers at the supported events have ranged from 80 up to 5,000. The predicted £200m economic boost has been achieved through less than £2m of investment from the Fund, with a total of 97 conferences already secured.
Neil Brownlee, head of business events at VisitScotland, said: "To boost the Scottish economy by £200m from less than £2m of investment is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the huge importance of the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund in attracting business events to this country. These are fixed, contracted conferences with specific delegate numbers that move around the world - we know what they are and what they bring, and it is great to have such business ‘on-the-books’ so far out.
He added that the business events industry is a key sector which supports not only conference centres and hotels throughout Scotland, but also hundreds of other operators not normally associated with tourism, such as AV companies, independent caterers and unique venues.