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Biblical conference boosts local economy by £1.7m

Thursday 11 July 2013

The University of St Andrews welcomed one of its biggest ever conferences this week, with an event that is set to boost the local economy by around £1.7 million.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, stopped by for a visit on the fourth day of the Society of Biblical Literature’s International Meeting, an event attended by more than 850 delegates over five days.

Following support from the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund, it is only the second time in the Society’s 133-year history that its International Meeting has come to Scotland, having been held in Edinburgh in 2006.

The event co-incided with the news that the fund - aimed at making Scotland more competitive in the international conference market – has generated more than £70m in its first year.  

Speaking to delegates Mr Ewing said: ““As today’s announcements show, Scotland is a world-leading destination for events and conferences, bringing significant economic growth for the country. Business tourism is vital in creating a ripple effect, growing the Scottish economy beyond tourism through attracting business events and making connections across the wider business economy.

“The fund is already helping attract high-yield, high-spend international conferences linked to Scotland’s areas of expertise in industry, commerce or science and medicine.”

As one of VisitScotland’s Conference Ambassadors, Kristin De Troyer, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Bible, was instrumental in bringing the conference to St Andrews.

She said: “The International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature is the flagship of excellent biblical scholarship. It is a hugely important event for scholars around the world and it is a huge coup for St Andrews, but this conference would not have been possible without the help of VisitScotland’s Bid Fund.”

Neil Brownlee, Head of VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, said: “The VisitScotland Bid Fund is available to conferences of all sizes and we were delighted to be able to help bring the Society of Biblical Literature’s International Meeting to St Andrews. Events such as this are hugely important to Scotland’s visitor economy are a huge boon, not only for the university, but for local accommodation providers and restaurants.”

Dr John F. Kutsko, Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature, said: “The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest international organisation of scholars who study all areas and disciplines related to the Bible - ancient and modern. So as scholars of such an ancient text, and one that has been at the heart of the great universities at their founding and through their histories, we especially appreciate what an enormous privilege it is to meet at one of the oldest and greatest - the University of St Andrews. And VisitScotland has made this a memorable cultural experience for the staff organising it and for the nearly 900 members attending it.”

Founded in 1880, the Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest learned society devoted to the critical investigation of the Bible from a variety of academic disciplines.

ENDS

Note to Editors

For more information contact Tom Maxwell, Corporate Press Officer at Visit Scotland on Tel: 0131 472 409 or tom.maxwell@visitscotland.com.