Scotland: business tourism is working like a charm

4 min reading time

Published on 07/05/15 - Updated on 17/03/22

Edimbourg, deuxième ville organisatrice de congrès au Royaume-Uni

Scotland, which hosted close to 15 million tourists in 2013 according VisitScotland - including 2.5 million from outside the United Kingdom – has succeeded in playing on several levels. Visitors from worldwide come to wander the shores of Loch Ness, which is certainly the best tourism publicity campaign ever "invented", while others come for professional purposes. Business tourism and hotel results in Edinburgh and Glasgow are clearly beneficial to the country's economy.

In Scotland, business tourism is driven by the results in its two major cities, meaning Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 2013, the first was ranked 21st in Europe by the ICCA, the organization that counts the number of major international congresses held in a city. Edinburgh hosted 55, meaning three more events than in 2013 causing it to climb three rungs. Only London fares better in the United Kingdom with 166 events in 2013. On the other hand, Glasgow lost ground and slipped from 32nd to 38th place on the same period. It hosted 36 congresses in 2011 and 33 in 2013. Manchester, meanwhile, moved ahead (34 events in 2013, read our article).

Centralized marketing resources

Business tourism brought more than 300 million pounds sterling to Edinburgh's economy and around 136 million to Glasgow according to data gathered by the Edinburgh Convention Bureau and the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau respectively. It is thus possible to understand the interest behind dynamizing the convention supply through carefully targeted advertising campaigns.

At the next IMEX salon that will take place at Frankfurt next May 19 to 21, VisitScotland will promote the country's gastronomy (and also its its alcohol) through its Government organized program "Year of Food & Drink 2015". The goal is to highlight quality products, meaning whiskey, bear and even beef (Angus). The end goal is to develop incentive and team-building products. This shows that business tourism is a national cause, the "offices" of Edinburgh and Glasgow will be assisted by staff from the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre. Aberdeen attracts the third most business tourists. It is not listed in the ICCA ranking.

The country will also host the 10th Meeting & Incentive Forum from June 29 to July 3, 2015. During this event, the United Kingdom welcomed 380 professionals from all over Europe for the first time to discover Scotland's MICE assets. "We are thrilled to have this partnership with the M&I Forum and have already planned an important lineup of rendez-vous, site inspections and eductours," happily announces Amanda Ferguson, Marketing Meetings & Incentives for the United Kingdom and Europe within VisitScotland Business Events.

Hotel results support growth in the supply

Scotland's hospitality performance is up at the beginning of the year according to data from MKG Hospitality. In Edinburgh, the occupancy rate climbed 2.3 percentage points to 67.1% between March 2014 and 2015. Despite a drop in average daily rate by 0.7% to 69.70 pounds sterling, revenue per available room increased by 2.8%. Glasgow also posted good hotel results. On the same period, the occupancy rate rose 2.8 percentage points to 76.1%, the average daily rate increased by 4.4 %, bringing the RevPAR up by 8.4%.

Edinburgh is increasingly outfitting itself with an upscale hotel supply adapted to the demand for "lifestyle" products (see our report about this market segment). Thus, the 175-room Eden by Urban Villa should open in the city's center at the end of next year. Another innovative and different project will be near the St. James Center where 204 rooms will open in a five-star property, and a 175 key residence hotel (Urban Villa) should open in 2016. These projects are part of the continuity of a year that was also rich in openings of properties in the city, as indicated by data in the European Hospitality Report (read): the chain supply is particularly enriched by units belonging to the Ibis family, Motel One, Village Urban Resorts (De Vere group), DoubleTree by Hilton through conversions)... And yet this does not prevent business performance from growing for several years now. An original project fior the "Ribbon" hotel is also under study:

New properties are also opening in Glasgow. The brands Travelodge, Hampton Inn by Hilton, Ibis Styles (141 rooms, opening in September 2015) and Motel One (374 rooms, opening in 2017) are scheduled and will strengthen the economy segment, which developed well recently (Easy Hotel, Premier Inn Glasgow Pacific Quay). 800 new rooms should be delivered by 2017 according to the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.

Airport connections are developing

Edinburgh is the main gateway to Scotland with close to 10.2 million passengers going through the airport in 2014, or 4% more than last year. Growth should not stop there. The connection to Doha, implemented last year, will be expanded, bringing it from 5 to 7 flights per day in peek season. New flights from Frankfurt and Santander will be added this winter with Ryanair. The airport will also spend 50 million pounds sterling in building a new reception area for travelers.

All lights are green for Scottish business tourism. Sector professionals have understood the need to develop through marketing activities and improving accommodations.

Also read:

  • Edinburgh, a solid outlook for the future
  • Radisson Blu Edinburgh changes owner
  • DoubleTree by Hilton arrives in Edinburgh
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