Economic development convenor hails convention success

Cllr Tom Buchanan, Convener of the Economic Development committee, responds to news from the Edinburgh Convention Bureau about increased business tourism success.

Edinburgh's ability to attract major business events from across the globe is vital to our economy, not just in the teeth of a recession, but also for long-term prosperity. The fact that business tourism has continued to prosper in these difficult times is testament to the endeavours of everyone in the business, academic and investment communities, and I'm delighted to see this success.

But in a highly-competitive, international marketplace, we need leadership and partnership to keep ourselves best placed to take advantage of the opportunities that exist. That is why the Council set up the Destination Edinburgh Marketing Alliance (DEMA) to help harness the efforts of all those who can bring the world's top talent to the city.

A common purpose and a single voice are essential if we are to build on Edinburgh's already excellent reputation as a place in which to meet, work or invest. The Council has provided leadership in creating DEMA, but there is always more to do.

The city needs a greater range of conference venues and hotel accommodation for business visitors. We are working with the operators of Ingliston and other developers, with international credentials, on how to increase our capacity for major events to allow us to continue competing with cities in the UK and abroad.

As a sign of our ambitions, the expansion of the EICC, and the improvement in its facilities, will allow it to accommodate all but the largest events held in Europe. We are also discussing proposals for a new 6,000+ seater venue in the west of the city.

However, significant infrastructure projects require long-term planning and commitment. While we have to recognise that the current property market is not favourable, our work with partners to prepare for a resurgence in the economy goes on.

In the meantime, I am sure that those 52,000 delegates - attracted by the Edinburgh Convention Bureau alone - who visited Edinburgh last year will spread the word that the city is a high-quality destination and help ensure that the growth in the conventions market continues into next year.

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