Glasgow Looks Back on a Record Breaking Year for Conferences

10th Jan, 2024

Glasgow’s George Square

Glasgow, Scotland has significantly bolstered its standing as a prominent international conference destination, as evidenced by the notable increase in conferences held in the city that garnered record-breaking attendance figures in 2023, building upon the momentum of the city’s busiest year for international conferences in 2022, as reported by ICCA.

Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Glasgow has proven to be a trusted and popular host city for a variety of national and international associations to welcome more delegates to their conference than ever before.

In calendar year January to December 2023, Glasgow hosted over 350 conferences, welcoming over 115,000 delegates who brought over £140m in economic benefit to the city from delegate spend.

The European Conference on Educational Research, which took place at the University of Glasgow in August, attracted 4,000 delegates, almost 60% more than they had expected, resulting in the largest gathering of Educational Researchers in Europe.

Angelika Wegscheider, Office Manager at EERA, the organisers of ECER said: “Glasgow was a perfect place to re-enter into in-person conferences again. We needed to cancel one event, have the next online and were only able to offer a small in-person event in 2022. Having so many people in Glasgow meeting again after three years made a lively, buzzing atmosphere and showed the association as vibrant and creative. ECER 2023 served in many ways as a kick off for the development of ideas for the coming 30 anniversary of the association, and also furthered cooperation between our networks.

ECER 2023 was by far the largest conference we have had so far, and this was great. Knowing how many participated in Glasgow and how diverse the delegates were, we are sure that the creative atmosphere at ECER 2023 will carry over to ECER 2024 and our 30th anniversary.”

In addition to ECER 2023, the British International Studies Association (BISA) also drew record breaking delegate numbers when they held their Annual Conference at the Hilton Glasgow.

Bridge over the River Clyde, Glasgow

Juliet Dryden, Director and CEO at BISA said: “Our in-person 2023 conference in Glasgow was attended by record numbers of delegates. Not only did they want to connect face-to-face, they wanted to do so in a vibrant setting - and Glasgow didn’t disappoint. We received an amazingly warm welcome from Glaswegians, and there were no shortage of restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. Many delegates stayed on for the weekend to take advantage of all the city has to offer.”

As well as 2023 being a strong year for Glasgow’s hotels and academic venues, the Scottish Event Campus, the SEC Glasgow, saw a number of conferences take place attracting their highest ever delegate numbers.

The European Society for Human Genetics (ESHG) returned to Glasgow for the 2nd time in 8 years, and it proved to be an incredibly popular choice for delegates, more popular than any other host destination in the previous 55 years. ESHG attracted almost 4800 in person registrations in total, drawn from 90 different countries, delivering more than a 20% increase on expectations.

Jerome Del Picchia, ESHG Executive Officer said: “Organising a conference is Glasgow at the Scottish Event Campus now for the second time, has been a pleasure. During all stages of the organisation, one gets the distinct feeling that all parties are working together towards a common goal, being to achieve the best conference possible. The usual level of service of the SEC is making one feel wonderfully taken care of.

The Glasgow Convention Bureau is a gem. The city has obviously arrived in the circle of those venues, who understand the economic value and the importance of international conferences and do their best to provide the level of support an international organiser is looking for.”

Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism and Conventions at Glasgow Life said: “As we start 2024, looking ahead to a positive year for Business Events in our city, we are delighted to reflect back on 2023 and report that Glasgow has achieved unprecedented success in hosting a diverse array of conferences celebrating record-breaking delegate numbers. This accomplishment reflects the city's commitment to supporting the meetings industry, reinforcing Glasgow’s position as a popular destination for association conferences.”

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