The UK Economic Impact Study (UKEIS), unveiled yesterday at a conference in London, showed that conferences, exhibitions, trade shows and “incentive travel” added £58.4bn to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011.
In terms of gross value added (GVA), a measure of the value of goods and services, the report found that £17.5bn flowed into England, mainly in London and the West Midlands, compared to £1.9bn in Scotland and £908 million in Wales.
Edinburgh was the main attraction for conference organisers heading to Scotland, hosting 62.5 per cent of meetings north of the Border. Overall, England attracted 86 per cent of all the meetings in the UK while Scotland gained 6.6 per cent.
The study, commissioned by the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation, is the first of its kind and was welcomed by Scottish tourist authorities.
Neil Brownlee, head of Visit-Scotland’s business tourism unit, said: “This long-awaited report is the UK equivalent of similar research commissioned by the US meetings industry two years ago.
“It confirms that the meetings industry, or business tourism as we call it here, is an absolutely key sector supporting not only conference centres and hotels, but thousands of other operators not normally associated with tourism, such as AV companies and activity providers.
“It also reminds us that while tourism is one of the Scottish Government’s key target sectors, business tourism uniquely pulls from all the other sectors such as life sciences, energy and food and drink. It really is a shop window for Scotland.”