A centre of excellence

It’s fair to say that Scotland could have been called the ‘home of medical science’ given the huge contributions it has made in the study and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience and diabetes. High levels of biotechnology expertise, a tradition of innovation and groundbreaking research and technology excellence have all contributed to the country’s success in the field of medicine and life sciences.
    
From Penicillin and beta-blockers to anti-ulcer drugs and asthma treatments, there are a whole host of medical innovations which owe their development wholly, or in part, to the work pioneered in Scotland. And while the contributions made by the likes of Sir David Fleming, Alick Isaacs and Sir David Jack go back decades, the impact of their great minds will be felt forever.
    
This excellence in medical and life science continues today. With our scientists sitting at the forefront of leading edge research and a significant number of complementary companies based in Scotland, more universities and research institutes across the country are conducting invaluable studies, often leading to significant breakthroughs, from stem cell progress to cancer developments.

Medical conferences
Thanks to this wealth of intellectual capital, Scotland attracts some of the world’s leading international medical association conferences year after year. In 2009 more medical related conferences will be held across Scotland compared to any other subject matter bringing in a wealth of delegates and contributing to the £723 million that business tourism brings in for the Scottish economy.
    
Key events include The British Society for Dental Research annual conference which will be held at the Glasgow Caledonian University in September, while the Third International Conference on Dysfunctional Movement will bring almost 1,000 delegates to the EICC in November. In October the Royal College of Nursing AGM takes place at Edinburgh Conference Centre at Herriot Watt University and the UK Stroke Forum will be hosting its annual conference at the SECC in December. Looking ahead to next year there is a wide range of association conferences with a medical slant scheduled to visit Scotland so far – with more booked in right up until 2016!
    
Catriona Anderson, Marketing Manager for Associations with VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, says: “The main subject of our international association conferences are of a medical science theme, around 35 per cent in fact, which is closely followed by technology. Our outstanding medical science and research facilities, our technological and business capabilities and the unending drive to dream, invent, explore and adopt of our enlightened thinkers all inspire their global counterparts.”
    
“Scotland combines world-renowned facilities and state of the art conference venues with majestic scenery, enduring history and heritage and excellent visitor attractions. We are truly unique in our offering as a destination, we are a vibrant, thriving, contemporary conference destination with a wealth of intellect generated from world class institutions and research centres around Scotland, including our city universities such as Aberdeen’s Rowett Research Institute.   
    
“Scotland’s reputation as a centre of excellence in fields such as medicine and life sciences help it to continue to attract high calibre association meetings. A high proportion of all association conferences attracted to Scotland come as a direct result of an invitation from a local member of an organisation or professional body. The VisitScotland Ambassador Programme, which operates out with the main cities own ambassador programmes, will continue to work with professionals at the top of their fields to encourage their professional associations to bring their conference to Scotland in the future. Our success in Scotland in this field is borne out by the fact that 29 per cent of international association meetings hosted in the UK take place in Scotland.”

Investment and development

The ever increasing number of new investments and developments taking place means that, whether it is a conference for thousands of delegates or just a select few, there is a melting pot of old and new, historic and modern, large and intimate locations to choose from.
    
A major development is planned for the country’s flagship venue, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre where a £62 million purpose built National Arena will be added to existing facilities. The development, which will be Europe’s first complete exhibition, conference and entertainment venue, is part of a master plan by the SECC to completely transform the 64-acre site into a global standard conference and exhibition destination.
    
In addition to this, Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh continues to invest in its reputation for providing an exceptional service to delegates. The purpose-built Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which has been named as one of the top five-star conference centres in the world, has plans to invest in a major multi-million expansion in the next few years, anticipated to open in 2012.
    
Scotland is not short of ‘contemporary’ conference venues either. Hotel Missoni is the first property to be unveiled in Edinburgh, this exciting new hotel brand combines the unique style of the iconic Italian fashion & interiors house with expertise and its own individual design.
    
The construction of the new biodiversity and visitor information centre at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is well under way. The John Hope Gateway venue will offer delegates an unrivalled all weather interpretive facility, the Gateway will be one of the most sought after venues in Edinburgh.
    
In Glasgow, work is about to start on the Jumeirah’s five-star, deluxe hotel and, opening in September, the Blythswood Square Hotel based in one of the city centre’s most famous historical buildings, formerly the Royal Scottish Automobile Club. Following a £17 million investment, this five star hotel will have 88 bedrooms and complete conference facilities.

Only in Scotland
To compete on an international stage with rival destinations, world class venues are required and this is an area where Scotland has a competitive edge.
    
How many countries can offer a globally iconic venue such as Edinburgh Castle for a reception for up to a thousand people? Or the highest restaurant and conference centre in the UK at the top of the Cairngorm Mountains. Or the opportunity to dine at the Captain’s table – Captain Scott’s table that is onboard the Antarctic exploration ship the RRS Discovery. Or the chance to dine in splendour in the Great Hall at Stirling Castle where Mary Queen of Scots enjoyed her wedding feast, or where more recent royalty ate on board The Royal Yacht Britannia. Only in Scotland.
    
Many developments are also taking place out with the major cities. For conferences, the De Vere Cameron House Hotel and Resort has positioned itself as one of the world’s best resorts following a £25 million upgrade. The stunning hotel sits on the shores of beautiful Loch Lomond and is just 20 minutes from Glasgow International Airport. The 18th century baronial manor house has been completely refurbished and a new extension has added 35 bedrooms and four suites to the existing 89 bedrooms and seven suites.
    
The Highlands are also gearing up to become a bigger player in the conference market. The MacDonald Aviemore Highland Resort has quickly became a firm favourite, whilst the thriving Highland capital of Inverness is proving it has what it takes to be a top class conference destination following the launch of the Centre for Health Science – a state of the art facility for healthcare and biotechnology research, education, patient care, training and business development, one of the first of its kind in the UK. The aim of the facility is to become a centre of excellence and recognised leader in the field of life sciences by bringing together under one roof those at the forefront of health and bio-medical development, in the public, private and academic sectors. The development includes two lecture theatres, various meeting and seminar rooms, offices, a library and an open café and internal ‘street area’, the perfect spot for delegates to take a break.

Business with pleasure
Business tourism and leisure tourism are not fully divorced from each other with over 30 per cent of delegates extending their stay either pre or post conference. Being the home of golf and whisky does us no harm here and Scotland really comes into its own when the boardroom door closes and the conference is over.     
    
There is significant investment being ploughed into Scotland’s golf courses this year. Perhaps one of the most prominent investments is Donald Trump’s £1billion development in Aberdeenshire. Work has recently begun on what The Trump Organisation has promised to be “the world’s greatest golf course” as part of his golf resort which includes a five-star hotel and spa. The world-famous golfing resort of Turnberry in Ayrshire unveiled its new £30million look for the golf Open Championships in July and Fairmont St Andrews recent £13.5 million refurbishment with new look rooms, conference facilities and spa will also play its role in enhancing Scotland’s reputation as the Home of Golf.
    
Catriona adds: “We know the success of any conference doesn’t just depend upon the main event itself, but that equally important are the activities on offer, which make the delegates’ visit a memorable one and encourage them to return.  
    
With its numerous castles, mansions, galleries and museums able to host the highest-quality of receptions and gala dinners, delegates can experience a true taste of the friendly Scottish hospitality from being piped into dinner in a castle or treated to a traditional ceilidh to indulging in the finest of whisky tasting at one of the country’s many distilleries.”
    
VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit is an excellent first point of contact when planning a conference or event in Scotland. Providing swift and easy access to information on meeting venues, facilities and services in Scotland, the BTU can give impartial advice and assistance on all aspects of planning your next event.

For more information
Visit www.conventionscotland.com
Or contact VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, Ocean Point One, 94 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh EH6 6JH.
Tel:  +44 (0) 131 472 2355.
E-mail: businesstourism@visitscotland.com

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