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Danish travel and tech expert to address Glasgow’s Big Tourism Conversation

Press Release   •   Jan 16, 2017 08:00 GMT

A view of the Glasgow skyline from The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Credit VisitScotland.

Nearly 150 members from across Scotland’s tourism community are set to gather in Glasgow tomorrow (Tuesday, January 17) for a major industry event following the launch of the city’s new Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.

Taking place at Drygate Brewery in the city’s east end, Glasgow’s Big Tourism Conversation will be chaired by Amanda McMillan, Managing Director of Glasgow Airport, and feature a keynote address from Danish travel and tech expert, Emil Spangenberg; formerly Director of Digital Marketing and Communications with Visit Copenhagen.

The day will also include an interactive workshop, networking opportunities and a Q&A session with a panel of leading tourism professionals, including:

  • Dr Bridget McConnell CBE, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life;
  • Callum Ross, Chairman of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) Scotland and Co-Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC);
  • Emily Moore, Acting Head of Tourism Affairs at VisitBritain;
  • Anne Ledgerwood, General Manager of St Enoch Centre and Chair of Glasgow’s City Centre Retail Association (CCRA);
  • Simon MacQuarrie, Managing Director of digital design agency Creative Cell, which is leading the £1 million Tennent’s Story project; a joint initiative with The School of Simulation and Visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art and ZM Architecture geared at bringing the 500-year story of one of Scotland’s most iconic brands to life as a new visitor attraction opening in autumn this year.

The event has been organised by tourism partners Glasgow Life, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.

As one of Europe’s most vibrant and diverse destinations, Glasgow is recognised as a world-class city in which to live, work, study, invest, meet and visit. The city is Scotland’s cultural powerhouse – home to the largest cultural offer, the largest sporting infrastructure and the largest retail centre in the UK outside London.

Glasgow is also recognised as having the UK’s best Convention Bureau, responsible for securing major domestic and international conference business; is a global top five city for sporting events and, in the SSE Hydro, has the third busiest entertainment arena in the world.

Glasgow currently attracts just over two million tourists each year, spending almost £500 million. Additionally, some 20 million day visitors contribute approximately £1 billion to the local economy on an annual basis.

Launched last November, Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023 is the new framework through which the city will attract one million more visitors and position Glasgow as the ‘gateway to Scotland’.

The plan sets out a clear direction for continuing to build the city’s global profile as a successful tourist destination and is focused on increasing overnight leisure tourism visits by one million over the next seven years.

Achieving three million overnight visits per year by 2023 will deliver an economic boost of £771 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.

It will also help to achieve Scotland’s target of an additional £1 billion of visitor expenditure by 2020 and align with the aims of the Glasgow City Region City Deal; supporting the growth of the region’s economy.

To deliver this ambition, Glasgow has prioritised the positioning of its cultural tourism offer in key UK and international markets which, for the first time, is centred around six core themes: heritage; contemporary art; music; Charles Rennie Mackintosh; events and the city’s capability as a world-class sporting destination.

The plan will also promote Glasgow as a place to study and work and capitalise on the unique characteristics of its greatest asset, its people.

With more than a decade’s worth of international experience, Emil Spangenberg is recognised as a thought leader across emerging trends in digital and travel as well as destination marketing strategy, branding and leadership.

He has hosted international conferences and worked with governments, brands and cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Hamburg, New York City and Norwegian Airlines.He believes collaboration between industry and the public sector, which is at the heart of Glasgow’s tourism plan, is a key enabler of increased innovation, investment and economic growth.

He said: “Glasgow is launching itself on an ambitious and interesting path for the future at a time when the digital explosion has caused a radical shift in consumer purchasing behaviour, particularly in the travel sector.

“Building strong ties with more, and new, stakeholders at every level together with an ability to leverage resource, remain agile, respond quickly and move forward in a rapidly changing, real-time marketplace will be absolutely key to the success of Glasgow’s new tourism plan and the city is certainly starting from a strong position.

“I’m looking forward to sharing knowledge with my Glaswegian colleagues and supporting the city’s tourism evolution.”

Amanda McMillan, Managing Director of Glasgow Airport said:

“Collaboration between the tourism industry and its public and private sector partners is key to unlocking future economic benefits for Glasgow and Scotland.

“We’ve been very successful in ensuring Glasgow is rightly seen by UK and international visitors as the gateway to Scotland. When it comes to building on the city’s global profile, it’s vital we remain both competitive and ambitious.

“To achieve this it’s important we look at the success stories of other cities too, so I’m looking forward to hearing from former Visit Copenhagen director Emil Spangenberg.”

Dr Bridget McConnell CBE, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, said:

“Glasgow is Scotland’s cultural powerhouse; home to world-class museums, contemporary art, music, performances and an incredible built heritage.

“We’re continuing to invest in our cultural treasures, such as the £66 million refurbishment of the Burrell Collection and the £35 million transformation of the Kelvin Hall as well our commitment to promoting the wonderful legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

“We know that by working together with our industry and national partners, we can achieve our ambitious target of increasing Glasgow’s overnight tourist numbers to three million by 2023 and ensure more visitors to the city engage in our unique culture – becoming advocates of what makes Glasgow so great.”

Malcolm Roughead OBE, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

“Quality, collaboration and innovation will be key to achieving the ambitious objectives in the Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan and delivering the maximum economic benefits.

“That means city businesses and partners across all sectors working more closely and more strategically than ever before on joint goals, ensuring our tourism offering is absolutely outstanding and Glasgow is recognised as a visitor destination that is second to none – both nationally and internationally. It also means taking inspiration from brilliant innovators in the global tourism industry so that we can make the city a superb example of best practice around the world.”

Danny Cusick, Director of Tourism at Scottish Enterprise said:

“Tourism is a hugely important element of Glasgow’s economy. We are committed to working with our partners on the city’s new Visitor and Tourism Plan to realise the huge potential of the sector for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole. Having world leading experts such as Emil Spangenberg share their knowledge and experiences is a great way to inspire our tourism companies to be ambitious and innovative in how they grow their businesses.”

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Notes to Editors

About Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023

  • Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023 is the new framework for the continued growth of the city’s tourism economy.
  • The plan sets out a clear direction for building Glasgow’s global profile as a successful tourist destination and is focused on increasing overnight leisure tourism visits by one million over the next seven years.
  • Achieving three million overnight visits per year by 2023 will deliver an associated spend of £750 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.
  • At the same time, Glasgow will position itself as the ‘Gateway to Scotland’ to stimulate tourist numbers and spend more widely across the country.
  • Strong partnership working and collaboration, strategic decision-making, product development, destination marketing and improving the quality of the city’s visitor experience underpin the priority actions at the heart of the plan.
  • A new Leadership Group drawn from the private sector and academia, together with senior representation from key public sector stakeholders including Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, will oversee Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023 – championing its implementation and steering the city’s tourism sector to improve its global competitiveness while addressing any challenges and opportunities.
  • The Leadership Group will be supported by thematic business engagement workstreams which will coordinate and deliver a wide-range of activity throughout the lifespan of the plan aligned to: destination marketing; customer experience; data and insights; leadership and management development; service excellence; internationalisation; business tourism; digital transformation; innovation and entrepreneurship; transport connectivity; capital investment; jobs and skills; and monitoring and evaluating progress.
  • A new ‘one-stop shop’ website has been created which provides access to the resources, information and contacts needed to help industry engage with and support the delivery of the plan. For more information, visit

About VisitScotland

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017