Capital scores big as sports events see tourism soaring

The Ryder Cup in Perth brought tourists to the Capital. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Ryder Cup in Perth brought tourists to the Capital. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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THE Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup have been credited for a £20 million tourism boost for the city as conference bookings jumped by a third.

Marketing bosses believe the success of the events – along with this year’s independence referendum – have put Edinburgh in people’s thoughts for corporate get-togethers.

Convention centres and hotels secured business worth £21.9m to the city between January and ­November, compared to the previous year, with an estimated 59,400 delegates set to arrive in Edinburgh as a result.

Lesley Williams, head of business tourism at Marketing Edinburgh, also said the city could expect further growth in the number of corporate visitors as the UK economy continues to emerge from recession.

She said: “Because corporate events are booked up to two years in advance, the ­additional benefit of events that have taken place in 2014 – the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup – we have felt some of that but I think there’s a lot more to come. They really put Scotland on an international stage and showed how successfully we can run large events.

“Although they were sports events, they showed that Scotland is very accessible, it’s a friendly place to come, and events go very well. We’re ­already finding that the 
interest in Scotland has grown this year.”

Estimates put the economic impact of the bookings at £88.3m, up almost a third on the £66m impact of conferences booked in 2013.

The independence referendum saw Edinburgh’s historic vistas beamed across the world in the backdrop of TV news packages, raising the city’s profile and drawing more ­corporate clients and big international conferences from ­Europe and North America.

Ms Williams also said the workplace incentive market of trips paid for by big companies to reward the “elite” performers in their workforce was also on the rebound following a downturn during the recession.

She said: “In these events, you’re competing against a weekend in Thailand, or other worldwide destinations, but we do hold our own.”

EICC Head of Sales and ­Marketing Louise Andrew said the recent extension of the ­conference centre was also ­attracting bigger clients.

She said: “Recently we hosted two world congress events in the same week when the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin and the World Congress of Reproductive Biology occupied EICC in September.

“We are definitely seeing a trend for larger and longer duration international conferences coming to Edinburgh as event organisers place greater emphasis on meeting quality.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com