Tourism Expo makes tracks for city after five-year gap

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THE flagship event of Scotland’s tourism sector is to return to Edinburgh following a five-year exile.

VisitScotland Expo, the country’s biggest tourism trade show, will provide a £1.7 million boost to the city’s economy when it returns next April.

The event has not been held in Edinburgh since 2007, when many of the delegates had complained about the facilities at the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston and the poor transport links between the city centre and the venue.

But it will return to Ingliston – the only venue in the city large enough to hold it while the Edinburgh International Conference Centre remains closed – over two days in April.

Around 230 tourism businesses are expected to showcase what they do to a series of foreign buyers, with around 1000 people expected to descend on the venue.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Expo 2011, which took place in Aberdeen in April, proved a fantastic showcase for the whole of Scotland, as buyers from the likes of the US, Canada and Europe as well as emerging markets such as India and Russia, sought to add Scotland to their tour itineraries.

“The value of Expo is clear – the average potential value of business as a result of attending Expo as an exhibitor is £28,000, with some businesses quoting values as high as £100,000.”

The 2008 event had been due to be held in Edinburgh but was moved to Glasgow following complaints about the 2007 event, and it has since moved to Aberdeen.

Lucy Bird, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, which will work with VisitScotland to deliver the event, said: “The announcement that Edinburgh will be hosting Scotland’s most important leisure tourism buyer event at the Royal Highland Centre is great news.

“The event offers the opportunity to showcase the world-class visitor experience to be found in the city region and to promote Scotland’s inspiring capital to travel industry representatives from across the globe.”

The conference coup comes in the same week that Edinburgh climbed up the global rankings as an international conference city, from 36th last year to 29th this year.

The figures, from the International Congress and Convention Association, put the city behind only London in the UK.

Archie Glendinning, director of the Royal Highland Centre, said: “The centre is delighted to be a key part of next year’s Expo and looks forward to working closely with VisitScotland and Marketing Edinburgh to deliver Edinburgh’s first Expo in five years.”