The perfect prescription for perfect conferences

Conference organisers face a plethora of choice when it comes to choosing destinations, but anyone looking for a way of easing the headache could do worse than consider Scotland for their next event. And with a particular focus on showcasing the best of Scottish food and drink throughout 2010, anyone visiting the country this year is sure to have their appetite whetted by a first-class culinary experience.
Not only do health and medical conferences abound in Scotland, but throughout the country there are pockets of expertise in a range of medical specialisms, combined with excellent facilities in hotels, academic institutions, state of the art conference centres and even castles and stately homes.  
New developments are coming on stream constantly, with existing facilities benefiting from refurbishment, redevelopment and extensions. Across the country, significant investment in the business tourism infrastructure is either planned or underway. Just a few examples include a new 12,000 seat arena at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow; doubling of capacity at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre; new five-star hotels in Glasgow; new Missoni and Hotel du Vin hotels in Edinburgh; and major refurbishment of traditional hotels such as Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, Crieff Hydro in Perthshire and Doubletree by Hilton in Dunblane.  
A particular favourite for NHS events, and one which is investing heavily in technology to bring the experience of the operating theatre right into the conference room, is the Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre.  The hotel has already beamed images from the cardiac catheterisation laboratories at the adjoining Golden Jubilee National Hospital into their auditorium and has plans to extend this facility for conference and teaching purposes.

One of the flagship events due to be held in Scotland this year is the European Association of Osseointegration Congress, which will bring 3,000 delegates from all over the world, with an additional 1,000 trade exhibitors, to Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). Commenting on the choice of Scotland for this specialist dental implant event, congress organiser Paul Stone said: “Scotland has such a rich heritage in medical and scientific innovation, and the country itself is inspirational both in its culture and landscape – not to mention its appeal in terms of whisky and golf – that it was a natural choice for such a global event and one that is proving attractive with our members.”
Only in Scotland can business and pleasure combine seamlessly. With dynamic cities, glorious scenery, hotels ranging from the traditional to the contemporary and priced to suit every budget, historic exclusive-use venues, endless choice of outdoor activities and team building facilities, the country is well placed to stage memorable and motivational events.
VisitScotland’s dedicated Business Tourism Unit (BTU) leads in showcasing Scotland to the rest of world and its success is evidenced by results. On average, Scotland hosts around 330 association events each year, and both Edinburgh and Glasgow are rated in the top three in a list of European cities offering best value for money for association conferences.   

To give an idea of the scale of the country’s capabilities, here are just a few of the major events for which Scotland has already been the destination of choice are: The European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, when 3,000 delegates attended the SECC in June, plus the International Symposium on Dental Hygiene, which brought 1,800 delegates to the same venue. Future events at the SECC include the Association of Medical Education in Europe which will bring 2,000 visitors, and the World Parkinson Congress with 4,000 attending.  Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre will host 1,000 delegates at the International Conference on Shoulder and Elbow Surgery later this year, as well as the Society of Acute Medicine 2010 with 700 attendees.
And it’s not just the conference facilities themselves that are ticking all the right boxes, but the range of unique venues and exclusive-use locations that are continually impressing as locations for additional events. The Royal Yacht Britannia is the ultimate venue for an evening reception where guests can be piped aboard; castles, such as Edinburgh and Stirling, are available for gala dinners and ceilidhs; the finest cuisine can be experienced by hosting private dinners at one of the many stately homes, such as Lennoxlove in East Lothian, home of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton and are ideal for corporate getaways.
Catriona Anderson, marketing manager for associations at VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, is rightfully proud of the quality and choice that Scotland offers event organisers. She says: “We are confident that our range of venues, combined with our passion for our country and all that it offers, as well as our indigenous expertise in sectors such as medicine, bio-technology, education and many more, give us an unbeatable edge over other locations.”

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