STAFF at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) are celebrating its 20th birthday – as new figures show it has generated £500 million for the Capital’s economy.
EICC leaders have also reported the venue’s strongest trading period on record in 2015, with further revenue boosts forecast over the coming three years.
They said the improvement had been driven by repeat bookings and new contract wins at national and international level, as the centre benefits from an enhanced reputation following a £35m expansion.
The EICC – led by chief executive Marshall Dallas – opened in 1995 and was officially launched by the Queen the following year. Among key events in the venue’s history are its hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 1997 and this year’s visit by former US president Bill Clinton, Hollywood actor George Clooney and Virgin founder Richard Branson as part of the Scottish Business Awards.
Paying tribute to his staff, Mr Dallas said: “It’s incredible to think that some of the team from 1995 are still at the core of the business in 2015.
“I think that speaks volumes to the organisation and to all the people who have made the EICC what it is today.”
He added: “While we are now widely regarded as one of the world’s top conference venues, the next 20 years will be about investing in our people and technology to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the industry.”
Concern emerged towards the end of last year over the need for a possible council bail-out of the EICC following publication of accounts which revealed it had plunged £1.2m into the red.
But EICC bosses today said a string of contract wins since the completion of the centre’s extension meant its financial position was solid.
“All signs point to us heading in the right direction as we enter the next exciting phase of growth,” said Mr Dallas.
Business leaders in the Capital have hailed the EICC’s contribution to the local economy. Sir Tom Farmer, whose Kwik-Fit company held the venue’s first conference in 1995, said the figures were testament to its “world-class ambition”.
He added: “Not only has it become part of the fabric of Edinburgh and Scotland, but to the conference industry itself and to the many thousands of delegates who have passed through the venue’s doors and received the very best in Scottish hospitality and the highest levels of customer service.
“For one, I wish Marshall Dallas and his hard- working team all the best for the future.”
City chiefs said the economic impact of the EICC had increased by an average of £24m each year since the opening of the Lennox Suite expansion in 2013. Councillor Frank Ross, economy leader, said: “I am delighted that the council’s investment in the EICC has proven to be such a story of success. The EICC has made an extremely valuable contribution to Scotland’s economy since it opened its doors.”