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Edinburgh and Glasgow bureaux respond to call to join forces

Bureaux hint at working closer in the future, following calls from VisitScotland chair Mike Cantlay

Edinburgh and Glasgow convention bureaux have cautiously welcomed calls for the two cities to join forces to boost tourism numbers.

The bureaux hinted closer alliances could be established between them, with Convention Edinburgh saying there is "clear opportunity" to work closer with Glasgow, but neither bureaux have directly supported the idea.

Dr Mike Cantlay, outgoing chair of VisitScotland, said last week that combining Edinburgh and Glasgow would be the biggest thing to grow the tourism sector in Scotland.

He said: “I always look for the biggest hits that make the most profound change. The single biggest transformation, that is creeping day-by-day, is the coming together of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“The two cities are getting closer and closer from a tourism perspective. The two cities are totally different, but the transport times are coming down minute by minute. There is now no real distinction between where you stay and what you do between the two cities.”

It comes after Glasgow reported its best ever conference year in 2015, while Edinburgh's international conference numbers doubled from 2014.

Lesley Williams, head of business tourism at Convention Edinburgh, said: "As the host cities for the majority of all business tourism events and conferences that take place in Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow have a long history of working together to promote our unique, but complementary offerings.

“Each city has its own strengths and appeal. For Edinburgh, our world leading reputation in science, finance, culture and history. Regularly voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Edinburgh is also the home of four universities and globally recognised research hubs. We have access to an incredible network of academics and experts through our Edinburgh Ambassador programme, 20 years old this year. 

“This differentiation means sometimes Edinburgh best fits the brief for conference organisers, sometimes its Glasgow. But crucially we are bringing these international association meetings to Scotland and showcasing what as a wonderful, authentic experience our country can offer delegates.

“With the current infrastructure improvements underway connecting both cities, there is clear opportunity for us to work closer together to promote Scotland as a world leading business tourism destination, for the benefit of all."

Aileen Crawford, head of conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: "We have big ambitions for the years ahead, with business tourism at the heart of this aspiration.

“Having founded the first Conference Ambassador Programme in the UK and growing the pool of influential individuals in the programme to more than 1700, Glasgow is proud to work with academics spanning the country.  

“Our Edinburgh academics play a key role in the programme and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with them to attract large international congresses to Glasgow and to Scotland.”

The bureaux will co-host an education session, A Tale of Two Cities, at IMEX Frankfurt next month.

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