2000 ambassadors help make Glasgow a convention hot spot

ONE of the city council's biggest success stories is Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.

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It was set up by the local authority in 2005 to showcase the city's reputation as a world-class place in which to live, work, study and invest, and to visit.

This week, councillors will be reminded just how successful the bureau has been under chief executive Scott Taylor.

The prospect of a technical conference would have most of us running in the opposite direction. But conferences are big business and Glasgow has increasingly become a top venue for academics and business leaders from across the world.

Since it was established, the Marketing Bureau has won 2200 domestic and international conferences, boosting the city's coffers by £1billion. More than 800,000 delegates have spent 3.3million nights in hotels and spent money in pubs, restaurants and shops. Delegates account for one in five hotel bed occupancies in Glasgow.

Part of the city's success in attracting so many high-spending conferences is down to an influential network of more than 2000 high-powered ambassadors.

They are leaders in their fields, drawn from the city's academic, scientific, medical and business communities, and are supported by the Marketing Bureau's conventions team to persuade their industries and associations to host a conference in the city.

It is hardly surprising that the Glasgow operation has been named the UK's best convention bureau for seven years in a row.

But while the conference sector is booming, there is little sign of developers having confidence in the city. In previous years, the first planning meeting after the council's summer recess would have been bursting at the seams with applications.

THIS year, there were only three items on the agenda and the next meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, has been cancelled due to lack of business.

In recent years, non-contentious planning applications have been decided by officials rather than councillors to speed up the process. But before the recession hit, there would still have been enough major schemes in the pipeline to keep the committee occupied.

Elsewhere, council leader Gordon Matheson was at the launch of a scheme to persuade firms to employ former members of the Armed Forces.

The local authority is to pay a percentage of their wages for up to a year.

More than 100 former servicemen and women were snapped up for jobs at the City Chambers' event, and it seems likely many more will find work soon.

It is almost certain other local authorities will now follow Glasgow's lead, offering hope to people who badly need a break.

Local government

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