BUSINESSES outside Glasgow are already beginning to see the benefits of next year’s Commonwealth Games, according to the country’s top tourism official.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said hotel and other accommodation providers in Ayrshire are reporting they are fully booked for the duration of next summer’s sporting events.
The effect of this overspill highlights the value of the games not just to Glasgow, but to the wider Scottish economy, Roughhead said.
“The question now for those businesses is, if these people are going to go to Glasgow and have a fantastic time at the games, what are you going to do for them when they come home at night?” Roughhead added. “It’s something we all need to be thinking about.”
Speaking at an event organised by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Roughead said businesses across the country need to work together maximise returns from next year’s unprecedented convergence of events, which include not just the games but also the Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland activities.
“2014 for us is very much about a stepping stone – and a very important stepping stone – but a stepping stone to the next five to ten years,” Roughhead added.
Scotland’s “visitor economy” – which includes day trips as well as overnight stays – is worth about £11 billion annually and supports an estimated 270,000 jobs. Roughead said that, although many considered it a mature industry, there remains room for growth.
“If you think about it, a 1 per cent increase equates to £110 million, and I don’t think anyone would say no to that,” Roughhead said.
Another area of huge untapped potential lies in “accessible tourism” for mobility-impaired customers, a segment currently worth £325m a year.
It is thought that somewhere in the region of £7bn goes unspent every year by potential visitors who choose to stay at home because they are not sure whether their needs can be met when travelling.