Meetings 'worth £1.9bn to economy'

New research suggests meetings are worth £1.9bn year to the economy in Scotland.

Experts from Leeds Metropolitan University said 87,000 such meetings took place in Scotland during 2011.

They used an internationally-recognised definition of a meeting, having at least 10 people, lasting more than four hours, and in a paid-for venue.

Across the UK, more than 1.3m meetings were held in 2011 at more than 10,000 venues.

Attendees spent just under £40bn, and while meetings were at diverse locations, most meetings were at large hotels.

Scottish meetings were 6.6% of the total and a third of Scotland's meetings were in Edinburgh.

The meetings 'industry' is reckoned to be the 16th biggest employer in Britain, according to the study, which was commissioned for industry body Meeting Professionals International Foundation

The Leeds Metropolitan University researchers said meetings contributed additional value to the British economy of £20.6bn.

Neil Brownlee, head of VisitScotland's business tourism unit, said: "This long awaited report 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 audio-visual 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 & drink. It really is a shop window for Scotland."