LEGIONS of international delegates attending conferences in the revamped EICC have injected a record £50 million into cash registers across the city in the last year.
The huge windfall – almost twice the knock-on investment from earlier years – coincides with last year’s launch of the venue’s Lennox Suite expansion which doubled capacity to 3000.
The previous high-water mark for spin-off investment in Edinburgh’s economy was recorded at £35m in 2012.
News of the economic boon comes just months after Edinburgh climbed five places to 33rd in an international league table of the most successful conference destinations.
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre, owned by the city council, has undergone a massive £30m extension which introduced a pioneering hall-wide moving floor system and attracted longer duration international events with greater audiences.
Money-spinning summits hosted at the revamped venue in recent years include the International Investigative Dermatology conference, the European Space Agency’s Living Planet Symposium and The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Summit, which attracted thousands of visitors to the Capital.
The IWRA World Water Congress scheduled for May 2015 is expected to bring 1000 delegates to the city over five days.
Speaking to the News, EICC chair Cllr Gordon Munro credited ex-chief executive Hans H Rissman for the venue’s improved performance.
“In 2013 EICC’s new Lennox Suite expansion opened its doors and it is encouraging to see such an early payback to the city from this investment,” said Cllr Munro.
“Businesses that accommodate, transport and entertain visitors to Edinburgh will share my appreciation of the outstanding work of Chief Executive, Hans H Rissmann and his team in bringing the new space to market on time and with a growing order book”.
Echoing this view, senior business analysts said the record-breaking conference figures augur well for the future.
David Birrell, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said momentum achieved in the conference sector must not be allowed to stagnate.
“The investment in extending the capacity of EICC is already bearing fruit,” he said.
“The decision was warmly welcomed by the Edinburgh business community, and will have been lauded by the city’s leisure and hospitality sector in particular, whose hotel rooms, restaurants and bars are all the busier as a result.
“The challenge now is not only to ensure that the order book continues to grow, but also to ensure as many businesses as possible can benefit from the increasing number of international business tourists being attracted to the Capital.
“It is a fine achievement and we look forward to hearing of similar growth in future.”
Edinburgh will be the host city for 132 conferences and 50,000 delegates in the two years from 2013. The black-tie party for the 2000 sq metre expansion launch in May saw 700 guests attend, with entertainment provided by songstress Laura Mvula and impressionist Jon Culshaw.
ON THEIR WAY
A STRING of large-scale events is to be hosted at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. More than a few usual summits are on their way, including:
• European Lead Battery Conference (September);
• European Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (July);
• The Congress of the European Flour Millers (May).