Glasgow 2014: Other Scottish regions cash in on Games bounce

Glasgow 2014 banners in city Image copyright SNS
Image caption The Games is having a knock-on impact beyond the host city of Glasgow

The impact of the Commonwealth Games is being felt across Scotland, according to local councils and business groups.

Glasgow is hosting the global event which gets under way on Wednesday.

But cities like Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have also been cashing in on the chance to boost local economies and showcase areas as tourist destinations.

However, one academic has warned that the legacy of the Games may be short-lived as the so-called bounce effect quickly wears off.

The benefits of the Games for the host city Glasgow, in terms of infrastructure, investment, jobs, and an increase in visitors to the city has been well documented.

However, across Scotland other areas say they have also been feeling the impact.

'Huge opportunity'

The most obvious places for this are the regions which are home to the three "satellite" venues for the Games.

The shooting events are taking place at the Barry Buddon military base in Carnoustie, the diving at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh and the triathlon at Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell.

Tayside is hosting the biggest Commonwealth Village outside Glasgow, with 500 athletes and team officials gathering in the area.

Image caption Shooting events are being held at the Barry Buddon military range in Carnoustie
Image caption The flags and bunting are out to welcome triathletes and spectators to Strathclyde Park

"It'll provide a boost to the local economy and is a huge opportunity to showcase the base of Dundee and Angus to visitors from around the Commonwealth," said Shona Robison, Commonwealth Games Minister and local MSP in Dundee.

In North Lanarkshire, the council says some of the benefits of hosting the triathlon, and part of the cycling time trial, include new jobs in firms awarded Games contracts and the improvement of green spaces and woodland areas.

Visit Scotland, Edinburgh City Council and the Edinburgh Hotels Association are all banking on the draw of Olympic diver Tom Daley bringing thousands of spectators and extra visitors to the city.

A Glasgow 2014 survey also suggested that one in 10 spectators was intending to combine visiting the Games with a longer trip in Scotland - and 40% of those named Edinburgh as the top place they would like to visit.

"Edinburgh is in a prime location to benefit from an increase in visitors," said Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland.

Image copyright SNS
Image caption The Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh will host the diving events
Image copyright SNS
Image caption It is hoped the kind of crowds seen for the Queen's Baton Relay in the capital will continue during the Games

"Not only will it host the diving element of the competition at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, the capital is also less than an hour by train from Glasgow, making it a popular accommodation choice for people who want to enjoy the sporting action but also experience other parts of Scotland."

The end of the Games coincides with the start of the Edinburgh Festival so there is also hope that sports spectators will stay on in the city to soak up some culture.

Tristan Nesbitt, from the Edinburgh Hotels Association and general manager of the Sheraton Hotel, said: "It is essential that we now capitalise on all opportunities to showcase the very best of what our city has to offer and secure long-term business for our hotels, as well as the wider local economy, for many years to come."

And while the boost to tourism is a focus for the capital, businesses in the Highlands and Islands have been using the Games as an opportunity to develop and expand export markets.

Laura Robertson from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: "The combined gross domestic product of the Commonwealth is expected to grow significantly faster than the Eurozone over the next five years and Australia, Singapore and India are key to this growth."

HIE has organised workshops during Games time for firms keen to increase international sales in Commonwealth countries.

"This event will highlight to businesses the substantial opportunities for doing business with our Commonwealth neighbours while providing practical, expert advice for entering these markets or exporting for the first time," Ms Robertson added.

Similar sessions were held in the Western Isles and timed to coincide with the Baton Relay passing through - an event which was also billed by every local authority as a chance to "showcase" individual regions.

Across Scotland, sports centres have provided training venues for Games athletes.

The Cameroon team held a two-week pre-games camp at Aberdeen Sports Village and Robert Gordon University's sport facility, with a total of 47 athletes, plus team coaches and officials, staying at student accommodation in the city.

Image caption Athletes from Cameroon were in Aberdeen for a pre-Games training camp

David Beattie, from Aberdeen Sports Village, said: "Our leading sports facilities will help the athletes to fine tune their performances so when the Games begin they'll be in the best possible condition."

In the Borders, the council says Glasgow 2014 has provided an opportunity to improve and invest in sport facilities for the future.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, said: "The Commonwealth Games Legacy 2014 fund has already benefited a number of sporting facilities around the Borders and there are still two rounds of funding to be announced."

And what of the expected uptake in participation in sports that is often cited as being associated with events like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games?

"Edinburgh Leisure anticipate an increase in inquiries for our extensive range of coached activities in the months following the Commonwealth Games," said Councillor Richard Lewis, culture and sport convener at Edinburgh City Council.

However, John Kelly, who lecturers in sports management at Edinburgh University and is currently writing a book about sports and politics, says previous studies suggest that when the so-called bounce or "Wimbledon effect" occurs it is not sustained.

"It would be rather hopeless if given the publicity, inflated funding and improved facilities that there were not some increases," he said.

'Queuing up'

"But we must question whether any potential increases are worth the costs and if these increases could not have been achieved with less public money spent in more focused ways?"

He is also sceptical about the boost to tourism.

"Previous Games have shown that it is difficult to judge the extent to which tourists and footfall are due to the Games rather than than normal tourists who would have visited anyway," he said.

"It is sometimes not clearly noted if there has been increased visitors or if the "success" is due to (hotel) prices being hiked before, during and after the Games.

"There have also been previous claims that when a region hosts a major event like this, other regions within the same country lose out on potential tourists who end up visiting the Games city rather than other potential locations they might have visited otherwise."

He warned: "We need to be careful about claiming the Games are responsible for x and y."

However, councils remain optimistic.

"We hope that kids will be queuing up to get involved in sports, as was the case following the excitement of London 2012," Councillor Lewis said.

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