Business leaders are supporting an initiative to bring more prestigious and lucrative conferences and business events to Perth and Kinross.
Business Tourism for Scotland (BTfS) has teamed up with Invest in Perth, the investment campaign of Perth and Kinross Council, to host the Perth leg of the new Think Scotland, Think Conference (TSTC) initiative.
Members of the Invest in Perth Ambassador programme – set up to promote the city to the world as a high quality business location and an attractive proposition for inward investment – will gather at Aviva’s headquarters on 19 May to hear of the initiative.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, is to make the keynote speech while Stephen Leckie, Chief Executive of Crieff Hydro, and BTfS representative, Sarah Butler, Chief Executive of Scone Palace, and Perth and Kinross Council Chief Executive, Bernadette Malone will also give presentations.
With business tourism events currently worth £1.9bn annually to the Scottish economy, Think Scotland, Think Conference aims to unlock greater business tourism benefits by engaging directly with commercial and private companies on an unprecedented scale.
The event aims to provide the right marketing tools, knowledge and support to allow local business leaders to become advocates of Perth’s business tourism offering.
Stephen Leckie, Chief Executive of Crieff Hydro, and BTfS representative for the TSTC Perth event said: “I’m a passionate believer that business tourism has a reach well beyond hospitality and tourism; it’s an economic driver that brings substantial and far reaching benefits to the wider region. With TSTC we are directly engaging with business leaders, simply asking them to consider putting Perth and Scotland forward as the next host location for their organisation or trade body’s next annual conference, team building or incentive event.”
Councillor John Kellas, Convener of Enterprise and Infrastructure Committee at Perth and Kinross Council, said it is hoped the event will allow Perth City Region to obtain a larger share of the conference and business events market in Scotland. He said: “We are ideally placed for further growth in business tourism as we can highlight a mature and highly respected reputation as a major conference and events destination.
“We need to capitalise on the many attractions of Perth City Region. We know that conference and event organisers or businesses are interested as much in the added value of an area, not just the meeting space. That’s where Perthshire, with its unrivalled beauty and widescale leisure attractions, can make its mark.
Overall tourism brings in £465million and some 1.9million visits each year to Perth and Kinross. While the Perth Concert Hall has continued to grow as the city’s main conference venue, other sites in the area – ranging from Gleneagles to Perth Racecourse – are increasing in popularity. Perth’s conference offering has also been complimented with the recent opening of the 80-room Premier Inn, adjacent to Perth Concert Hall, providing new accommodation options for delegates.
Developed by industry group BTfS, Think Scotland, Think Conference (TSTC) is leading the challenge to grow business tourism by £400m (21%) to £2.3bn by 2020, (21%). TSTC is being delivered as a key strand of Scotland’s national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020, co-ordinated by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA).
Launched in January at Edinburgh Castle by Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing MSP, TSTC aims to encourage the national and international business world to consider opportunities to bring new meetings and conferences into Scotland. The public sector is lined up in support, with agencies such as Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, using their networks at home and abroad to generate potential enquiries.
Danny Cusick, Sector Director – Tourism, Food & Drink and Textiles at Scottish Enterprise said: “Business events offer Scotland an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the country’s strengths in our key sectors. Many potential investors have their first ever experience of Scotland through attending an international business event hosted here. Equally, innovative and internationally ambitious Scottish companies use conferences to develop new business opportunities.
“We will work with our extensive networks in Scotland and overseas to spread the message that Scotland has the facilities, the drive and the capabilities to deliver world class business events. TSTC will help maximise our recent investments in some of our key conferencing assets such as the SSE Hydro and the EICC supporting the tourism industry to deliver its ambitious growth targets.”
While the Perth event takes place on 19 May, TSTC events will run from now to late June, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Dumfries, Aviemore, Inverness, Stirling, Aberdeen and Fife. The launch programme will engage with over 250 hand-picked business influencers, in partnership with a range of major business organisations.