Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Article Published 26/08/2021
VisitScotland Business Events are delighted to announce the results of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 Scottish Association Survey. Following on from the success of the inaugural survey conducted in 2018/19, we have continued the Scottish Association Survey to provide a yearly update on the incredible value the association sector delivers to Scotland, as a tool to gauge the health of this sector, and to highlight any trends that we see emerging.
Our survey results include events that were planned for 2020/21, all of which were cancelled due to Covid-19. We felt it important to measure the value and volume of events lost to the sector due to the pandemic. It is important as an industry to understand the depth of the impact of Covid-19, but it is also important that the loss that has been recorded is published and communicated to government.
As an industry we have long known the incredible benefit and opportunity of hosting association events in Scotland, but as a country we have never truly seen or understood the full picture. In 2019 VisitScotland launched the first ever Scottish Association Survey, a new annual survey that we will conduct in partnership with Scotland's convention bureaus, conference centres, venues, universities, and hotels.
To gather the data for this survey VisitScotland has asked the business events industry in Scotland, to share your conference data with us. The event information we received was carefully checked for dates and accuracy, and any events that were not classified as being an association event were removed. Events had to be international, and not normally take place in Scotland, therefore attracting delegates into Scotland. A Scottish association event would not be included.
This big data set has been anonymised, delegate days have been calculated, sectors analysed, and the results are in!
- In 2019/20 Scotland hosted an incredible 330 association events
- In total up to 121,000 delegates came to Scotland, translating into an incredible 412,000 delegate days spent in Scotland.
- Life Science events accounted for 42% of delegate days - down 13%
- ICT and Data events account for 10% of delegate days - up 2%
- The Social Sciences account for 11% of delegate days - up 4%
- The total net additional value of association conferences in 2019/20 in Scotland was £250m
- Primary VisitScotland research has revealed that roughly 4 in every 10 delegates will extend their stay for on average 3 days in Scotland. These extenders contribute an additional £5.1m
- Further VisitScotland research shows that 9 in 10 delegates would return to Scotland in the future, with the potential value of these repeat visits totalling £6.8m.
It is important to remember that all results for 2020/21 describe value that was lost due to Covid-19.
- In 2020/21 Scotland would have hosted 271 association events
- 142,000 delegates were projected to come to Scotland, translating into an incredible 555,000 delegate days spent in Scotland - up 35% on 2019/20
- Life Science events accounted for 50% of delegate days - up 8%
- ICT and Data events account for 10% of delegate days - no change
- The Social Sciences account for 3% of delegate days - down 8%
- The total net additional value of association conferences in 2020/21 in Scotland was projected to be a massive £330m - an increase of 33% on 2019/20
- Primary VisitScotland research has revealed that roughly 4 in every 10 delegates will extend their stay for on average 3 days in Scotland. These extenders would have contributed an additional £6.6m
- Further VisitScotland research shows that 9 in 10 delegates would have returned to Scotland in the future, with the potential value of these repeat visits totalling £8.3m.
2020/21 was set to be a record year for the Scottish association sector, with huge numbers of delegates expected to travel to events, creating a huge economic impact for all related supply chain businesses. While some events will move dates and come to Scotland in the future, this loss is substantial.
For full results and even more insight and analysis, please see the full report.
These figures are a timely reminder of the enormous, positive impact association conferences can have for a destination. In challenging times, now more than ever the ability of associations to cross borders and build bridges is vital to our continued prosperity, peace, and growth. Scotland is Open - and we are excited to see the results as we rebound from the impact of Covid-19.
For any further information on the Scottish Association Survey please contact Patrick Lamont.
VisitScotland would like to extend a huge thanks to all our partners in Scotland who helped make this survey possible. Even with our best intentions data was not collected from every venue in Scotland. If your business hosts association events and was not able to submit data for this report, please get in touch so we can ensure you are included in future.