International flight connections, iconic brands and historic landmarks are among the attributes marketers in Scotland and the rest of Britain see as attracting Asia business event groups.
UK business events marketers were part of a British delegation at the PCMA Convening Leaders conference in Austin, Texas, January 8-11. They were out to show a post-Brexit resolve to the world as doubts linger about how the nation will negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union.
Visit Britain, which promotes all four countries of the United Kingdom, joined Visit Scotland in Austin to present the UK’s conference expertise and infrastructure to international meeting planners, including attendees from Singapore, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.
Among the representatives from Britain was Nick de Bois, a former event company boss and lawmaker, who chairs the UK Government’s Events Industry Board.
De Bois told a panel discussion hosted by Your Singapore, the marketing arm of the city’s tourism board, that conference and incentive planners should be aware that the recent Brexit vote was a rejection by the people of Britain of being part of a political union of European states. He said trade between the UK and continental Europe would still be pursued.
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He said Britain still formed part of Europe and that passport-free travel designed to encourage trade had only existed under an agreement between six nations in the bloc. While Britain is likely to pull out of this agreement, trade, investment and tourism would continue.
Chris Foy, head of business visits and events for Visit Britain, told MIX that infrastructure and proven scientific conferences ranked high alongside historic sights and the UK’s popular culture such as Premier League soccer and cities with a strong musical heritage such as Liverpool.
Visit Britain has launched a campaign featuring international conference planners, including those from Asia, and endorsing the country’s combination of expertise, world-class facilities, history and popular culture.
Visit Scotland’s head of business events, Neil Brownlee, said an ambassador programme was being built aimed at strengthening the country’s profile among more Asian conference and incentive planners.
Flights into Glasgow by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are seen as helping to bring more association and incentive groups from Asia. Brownlee added that the capital Edinburgh’s flight connections via the Middle East and other hubs are also expected to grow.
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Brownlee said Scotland already had a solid marketing foundation with brand recognition, including the rising popularity of whisky as a luxury product. This came alongside a heritage of innovation ranging from the inventor of television, John Logie Baird; Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin; Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with inventing the telephone; the cloning of “Dolly the sheep” and more.
Visit Scotland specialises in attracting groups to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and other parts of the country. Similar to Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland elects legislators to its own national assemblies as well as to Britain’s parliament in London.
Main picture: A scene from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo