Scottish Enterprise (SE) yesterday (July 2, 2015) confirmed funding of £10 million towards construction of the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) which over the next ten years is expected to contribute an additional 4.5 million visitors, £113 million of visitor spend and £63 million net GVA to the Scottish economy.

The funding, approved by the SE board on June 24, will focus on creating a world-class venue that can compete on an international scale. This means ensuring the venue is the right size and quality, improving space versatility, reducing event turnaround times, enhancing the customer experience and increasing profitability. The aim of SE’s investment is to secure a high proportion of the business tourism market for the North East and to help build on Aberdeen City Council’s broader plans for weekend visitors.

The new centre will:

  • Provide four times the current exhibition space
  • Double the seated entertainment arena to 10,000
  • Secure an additional 31,000 business tourists to Scotland
  • Lead to an additional £11m of visitor spend per annum
  • Elevate Aberdeen into the top 5 of global competitor energy cities for conferences and exhibitions.

The £207 million centre will also enhance Scotland’s portfolio of business tourism venues which has recently been upgraded thanks to SE investment in the SSE Hydro and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The venue will be used to grow the business and leisure tourism markets and attract a wider programme of national and international events. It represents part of a significant strategic programme of investment in transport infrastructure, housing, and business space planned for the city region, as reflected in the Aberdeen City Region Deal and the Aberdeen Strategic Infrastructure Plan which aim to retain and build on Aberdeen’s position as Europe’s oil and gas capital. With Scotland’s oil and gas exports reaching £10 billion in 2012/13, a dedicated workforce of 224,000 and 2000 supply chain firms, the sector is one of the most important to the Scottish and UK economies.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“As the energy capital of Europe and a global centre for expertise in technology, the Scottish Government is keen to promote Aberdeen as a focus for international investment and events. This new investment in the AECC will provide world-class facilities that will serve Aberdeen city and shire, and Scotland, for years to come.

“Scottish Enterprise has supported a range of major infrastructure investments in recent years in order to maximise the economic return for Scotland and this new facility will provide a valuable asset, significantly strengthening the capacity to attract international conferences to the city.

“Through investment like this we can ensure Scotland maintains our position, as evidenced by the recent Ernst and Young survey, as the most successful part of the UK outside London in attracting foreign direct investment – punching well above our weight in an increasingly competitive global market.

“Cities and their regions are the engines of our economy and we are committed, with Scottish Enterprise, to working with all our cities both individually and collectively to unlock further investment to boost jobs and growth.”

Lena Wilson, chief executive, Scottish Enterprise, said: “We know that Aberdeen City and Shire is a major contributor to the Scottish economy. It is an ambitious area of Scotland, as the recently approved City Centre Masterplan indicates.

“Scottish Enterprise is committed to innovative partnerships throughout Scotland to deliver maximum value for the local and national economy. The new AECC is a great example of a project where we can add value not just by providing funding but by using our experience and networks across the country to get better impact for the North East. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to make the region even more successful”

Leader of Aberdeen City Council, Cllr Jenny Laing said: “The case for investing in a new Exhibition and Conference Centre for Aberdeen is so strong. We want to make sure we build on Aberdeen’s reputation as one of the most dynamic places in Europe to do business and ensure we combine this with the capability to continue to host the most prestigious business conferences as well as attracting leisure events to the North East. This funding is a welcome indication of the confidence Scottish Enterprise has in Aberdeen as a growth generator not just for the North East of Scotland but for the UK as a whole.”

James Bream, research & policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Scottish Enterprise’s investment is a welcome vote of confidence.

"The new exhibition and conference centre is a major infrastructure project for the region which will help support our economy in the years to come.”

ACSEF Chairman, Colin Crosby, said, “ACSEF welcomes the investment from Scottish Enterprise for the new AECC. It is an example of one of the many dynamic projects in the Aberdeen City & Shire that is benefiting from partnership working, a shared vision and a united voice which is driving a strong economic future for the north east, Scotland and the UK.”

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