Visit Scotland for top class conferencing

Scotland’s conference, meetings and incentives sector has never been in better health. With ongoing investment in new and refurbished facilities throughout the country, there is something to suit organisations of any size.
     
When it comes to location, Scotland tops the polls. But, more importantly, it has a diverse range of facilities for any size of event - from exclusive use historical landmarks and opulent hotels, to vibrant cities with world-class conference centres. Every city in Scotland can lay claim to offering everything that makes for a great meetings or conference destination and nowhere is very far from excellent road, rail and air transport links.

Centre of excellence
Scotland has a long-standing tradition of innovation and research. It has some of the world’s best universities and many of the finest teaching hospitals, making the country a centre of excellence in itself. Strong industry sectors in Scotland are the main subjects of international association conferences held worldwide: medical science (22 per cent), technology (13 per cent) and science (13 per cent).
    
Fully-fledged ambassador programmes operate in every region, providing access to the country’s leading experts in every field. For example, the University of Stirling offers expertise in nursing and midwifery, biological and environmental sciences and psychology. Located in the central belt, Stirling itself has a range of excellent conference and meeting facilities, but also benefits from easy access to both Edinburgh and Glasgow for larger events.
    
Scotland’s excellent location and facilities attract some of the major international conferences. In the past year the country has hosted Microsoft’s Government Leaders Forum at the Scottish Parliament - the first time the event has been held in the UK; the European Congress of Neurosurgery; Offshore Europe - the largest oil and gas technical meeting outside North America, and the British Cardiovascular Society Conference.
    
Highlights of the forthcoming conference and events calendar include the World Congress on Pain, which will bring 5,000 people together at the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) in August 2008. Also at the SECC, 3,000 delegates will attend the 28th Triennial Conference of the International Confederation of Midwives in June 2008.

Accolades
Then there are the accolades: Scotland was named ‘UK Region of the Future 2006/07’ by the Financial Times’ fDi magazine and Dundee was named one of the Intelligent Community Forum’s top seven Intelligent Communities of the Year – one of only two UK cities to feature on the list. With all of these combined, it’s clear that Scotland is a great place to do business.
    
The country does not stand still and new facilities are coming on stream all the time. In Glasgow alone there are 2,400 new hotel rooms planned for the next four years to meet demand from the city’s booming conference, events and leisure travel markets. And with the announcement that the city will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, plans are in place to create the necessary infrastructure, including an athlete’s village and a new national indoor sports arena.

Development projects
At Fairmont St Andrews, which has over 6,000 square metres of flexible meeting space, a multi-million pound redevelopment is currently underway to establish the hotel as a destination conference and spa venue. The conference areas are already finished with the bedroom refurbishments due for completion later this year.
    
Newly opened at the Norton House Hotel near Edinburgh Airport is a £13m development, which includes new conference and banqueting suites. Stylish new bedrooms and luxuriously appointed designer suites bring the total number of rooms to 83, ensuring that there is room to accommodate more guests in greater comfort. Modern amenities include MP3 connection, climate control, DVD, broadband, widescreen LCD TV and 68 radio and TV channels of entertainment.
     
In Perthshire, Scotland’s Blair Castle has opened the State Dining Room as an exclusive venue for private dinners catering from 16 to 50 guests. This complements the castle’s existing function facilities including the grand Victorian Ballroom, the contemporary Banvie Hall - with the design accent on glass - and the dignified library.
    
On the peaceful southern shores of Loch Lomond, yet conveniently located just 20 minutes from Glasgow International Airport, stands De Vere Cameron House. A stunning £25 million refurbishment is underway which will transform the hotel and position it among the best world-class destination resorts. The 18th century baronial manor house is being completely refurbished. A new, sympathetic extension will add a further 35 bedrooms and four suites to the 89 existing classic and deluxe bedrooms, seven classic suites and luxury suites. Inside and outside space has also been reinterpreted to ensure guests are never far from the inspirational views over the Loch and beyond to the dramatic peaks of the Scottish Highlands.
    
One of Edinburgh’s most exciting recent projects has been the redevelopment of the Royal College of Surgeons - believed to be the oldest medical incorporation in the world - to create Surgeon’s Hall Complex. As well as breathing new life into historic Surgeon’s Hall with the installation of new technology and contemporary facilities, the complex features two brand new buildings.
    
One of these is Ten Hill Place, a 77-bedroom hotel with full business facilities only ten minutes walk from the city centre. The other is Quincentenary Hall, a versatile building over three floors with space suitable for lectures and banquets. It features a dedicated surgical and dental skills training and examination area available to healthcare organisations on application.

Excellent venues
Large-scale events are well catered for in the world-class conference centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) is currently undergoing major development which will result in a 12,500 seat arena and luxury on-site accommodation by 2011. The iconic armadillo-shaped venue has flexible space for both exhibitions and conferences.
    
In Edinburgh, the purpose-built Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) is close to the city’s financial district and has established itself as one of the top five-star conference centres in the world. The EICC is a pioneer in innovation and has the only revolving auditoria in Europe, holding 1,200 people when opened to maximum capacity. It was also the first UK conference venue to install the Encore system for presentations, using cutting edge technology to screen six different moving image frames simultaneously against a high-resolution backdrop. Combined with cameras that can be trained to catch audience reactions at events such as awards ceremonies, the venue is ideal for staging spectacular audio-visual presentations.
    
The award-winning Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) also provides state-of-the-art facilities with on-site accommodation. Located only 15 minutes from Aberdeen Airport, the AECC is suitable for meetings, banqueting events and conferences for up to 2,000 delegates.
    
Further north and set against the dramatic backdrop of the Highlands, the Macdonald Aviemore Highland Conference Centre (MAHCC) can hold large numbers of delegates. In addition to a conference centre with 650-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art breakout rooms and exhibition space, there are four hotels, 18 deluxe Woodland Lodges, four restaurants, and extensive leisure and shopping facilities.

Quirky venues
There is a wealth of unusual venues in the cities that are well worth seeking out. In the capital, conference organisers can choose from venues such as Edinburgh Castle or the vaults under the old cobbled city streets at Underground Edinburgh.
    
Some of Glasgow’s finest architectural buildings bequeathed from the golden era of industry, such as The Trades Hall of Glasgow designed by Robert Adam and the beautiful sandstone-fronted Teacher Building, accommodate varying sizes of events. In more recent years, Glasgow’s design expertise has produced a number of stunning, contemporary venues created by some of the country’s most avant-garde architects. The Lighthouse - home of Scotland’s architecture and one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks - offers flexible, contemporary space for ten to 200 with unrivalled views over the city. Glasgow Science Centre’s new £1m glass-walled development The Atrium, offers facilities for both large meetings and gala dinners for up to 350.
    
Catriona Anderson, association manager at VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit comments: “Scotland is never prescriptive, but offers the perfect prescription for successful events. As the home of so much innovation and globally renowned medical universities, it is no surprise that large international conferences choose Scotland for their events.
    
“Increasingly delegates coming to Scotland choose to extend their stay, perhaps bringing their family with them, to experience more of the country for themselves. Scotland’s appeal lies in the full package of activities on offer, from vibrant cultural programmes in the cities to energetic outdoor activities in the more rural areas. And, given that Scotland is the undisputed home of golf, the opportunity to play a round on one of our 550+ golf courses is a top choice for people who want to mix work and play.”

For more information
Book your consultation with VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit on 0131 472 2355,
E-mail businesstourism@visitscotland.com , or visit www.conventionscotland.com

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