the opening of the £30 million extension to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre is seriously good news for the Capital.
Business tourism is now a fundamental part of the city’s economy.
Conferences and conventions are staged here, very often at the EICC, bringing with them thousands of delegates. All of them need somewhere to sleep, eat and drink, while many will shop and use other services while in the Capital.
Bookings at the EICC and other venues, plus the cash delegates spend during their stay, is estimated to be worth more than £300m a year to Edinburgh’s economy.
As well as the jobs this creates, – in hotels, bars, shops and restaurants – it helps fund everything from schools, social services and road repairs via the rates all these successful businesses pay.
And business tourism is a key driver of our wider tourist trade, as many people who first visit Edinburgh on business return with their families having had a taste of what we have to offer.
The improved facilities at the Lennox Suite opened by the Princes Royal last night can only help attract more of these visitors.
So investing in our flagship conference venue is a smart move.
But what is far from smart is that the EICC is currently losing money. Is it unreasonable to ask how you can lose money running a conference centre in Edinburgh, a city that virtually sells itself?
Birmingham, Liverpool and countlesss other cities would kill for the reputation we enjoy that brings streams of visitors to our door.
The fact the EICC has not attracted enough bookings to pay its way must be rectified quickly.
It is reassuring to hear Marshall Dallas, the centre’s new chief executive, is predicting a return to profit within 18 months, but he should not be starting in his new post having to turn around a failing set-up.