But the conference wasn't the only reason we were there. Charles met with Jim Mather before the Conference opened. Jim is the Minister in the Scottish Government responsible for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism. Charles outlined the reasons why 2012 was important for Scotland; focusing on the fantastic opportunity presented by the combination of the 2012 Games in London and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Jim was positive and keen to work together to maximise the benefits for Scotland.
The Conference then began. But briefly back to the shoulder movements which were so successfully rocking the house. This was a pre-Conference “energiser”, led by one of the local fitness instructors. The assembled hordes were peer pressured into shaking down their respectives.
After the excitement and energetics, Jim Mather opened the Conference, stressing the importance of tourism for Scotland, and the need to increase their market share, using the significant assets which they have; whisky tours and rolling landscapes being core parts of their brand. Then it was the first of the Keynotes. Tim Campbell was the first Apprentice; the winner of the TV show where they get to work closely with Alan Sugar. He painted a really interesting picture of himself, as the youngest son of a Jamaican single parent, achieving his ambitions in the world.
Tim and Charles:
Then it was Charles. He was a little ambushed before he spoke, with an electronic poll of the audience. The question was: Will Scotland benefit from the 2012 Games? There were four possible answers: i) yes; ii) would hope so; iii) not as much as it should; and iv) no, not at all. When the votes were counted, the results showed the percentages for i) and ii), to be 36.2 % and 25.2% respectively. I say Charles was ambushed because it quickly became clear that the same question would be asked after he had made his speech. So Charles went into the speech knowing his ability to convince the audience there was something in the 2012 Games for Scotland, was starkly and publicly in focus….
Charles talked a little about his own background, and his extensive working knowledge of the hospitality industry. He talked passionately about the types of things the 2012 Games would bring to Scotland: covering the areas of sport, business, culture, volunteering, and focusing more – given the relevance to the audience – on, the education/skills and the tourism areas. He made clear the Nations and Regions Group were working closely with the other key stakeholders to create the best opportunities we could for them. But ultimately it was up to Scotland to take the opportunities and maximise the benefits.
Charles addresses the conference:
The speech was well received. But we knew the second poll would indicate how convincing Charles had been. Fred said “right, push your buttons”. 42.5% answered “yes”; with 30.6% voting for “would hope so”. 6% and 5% increases respectively seemed initially quite small. But with the 2012 Games still four and a half years away, an increase in support of around 20% on the back of a 20 minute speech, was actually really encouraging.
Charles then had a few photographs with Tim from the Apprentice, and did some media work. Charles then met with two senior officials from the Scottish Government. They were able to keep us in touch with the evolving situation in Scotland, and agreed there was a fabulous opportunity to make a virtue of the Games in 2012 and Glasgow 2014, and Scotland’s other emerging plans.
An encouraging few hours in Scotland, and a good sense the Scots are engaged with London 2012.
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