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Scottish Enterprise business events study: executive summary


The aim of the study was to understand if and where further significant opportunities exist to attract additional business events revenues into Scotland.


The methodology consisted of a market supply and demand study which synthesised figures from a variety of existing literature including: the MPI Economic Impact of the UK Meeting and Event Industry Study 2013; the 2013 UK Tourism Survey; and the 2013 Business Event Tourism in Scotland (BETS) Report.


The report found that Scotland is already well respected as a business event destination, with Glasgow widely cited as an example of best practice within the UK. It identified key strengths within Scotland which allow it to effectively market itself as a business event destination: the positioning of Scotland internationally; appealing Scottish-specific assets including scenery, history and culture; sectors and universities demonstrating a strong academic and research reputation; high profile ambassadors; recent investments such as the £130m SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow and EICC expansion in Edinburgh; the introduction of the BID fund; and Scotland’s perception as a ‘safe destination’. Weaknesses identified included: weather; the perceived inaccessibility of some destinations; cost, including VAT and tax, in comparison with other European competitors who offer tax breaks and other incentives; availability of facilities and infrastructure; and consistency and lack of clarity when collaborating or sharing data, both between organisations and between organisations and various layers of government. Most of the barriers to growth were similar to the weaknesses identified but also included: the lack of availability of local funding; the uncertainty created by the EU referendum; increasing competition and perceptions of customer spending and expected quality; and reducing public sector investment. Various opportunities for growth were identified, including: targeting and attracting more international association conferences; targeting events in Scotland’s (or a region’s) key industries; investing in and developing new events to be based in Scotland; and promoting Scotland’s incentive travel offer; maximising delegate attendance at all types of events and increasing the impact of events – including increasing business visitor spend, promoting extended stays, and measuring and valuing wider industrial development and social impacts of events.


The report sets out a number of recommendations as to what Scotland should do to develop and grow its business events sector. These include: promote and support national interventions to make Scotland more competitive internationally; promote the business events sector as an industrial development tool; define the business events sector and its targets more clearly; promote increased collaboration and partnerships within the business events sector; support the continuation of the Bid fund and any proposals for increasing subvention budgets across Scotland; and identify and promote the needs of the business events sector in relation to transport infrastructure plans and projects.

Author IPW
Published Year 2016
Report Type Research
  • Internationalisation
    Inward investment