By Christine Lavelle
SCOTLAND’S economy is to receive a major boost over the next two years after Spanish power giant Iberdrola announced it will be investing £2.7 billion in businesses here.
Iberdola, owner of ScottishPower, has more than 1,800 suppliers in Scotland already, including Scottish Coal.
Senor Ignacio Galan, chairman of Iberdrola, said: “In the coming years, Iberdrola will intensify its firm commitment to Scotland.
“We plan to make investments in the United Kingdom of £4 billion in the 2010-12 period, two-thirds of which will go to Scotland.
“In the future, we want to see many more Basque companies going down the same road, setting up new business relationships, promoting the transfer of knowledge and technology and ultimately, creating new business opportunities.
“This will mean that Iberdola will continue to be a catalyst for development in Scotland and the Basque Country, two lands of great importance for our company and for which we have major plans in the future.”
First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the investment, saying the company’s commitment to Scotland was “immensely important”.
Spain’s contribution to Scotland’s economy will not end there.
The country has already seen an eight-fold increase in business tourism enquiries since last year’s Exhibition for the Incentive Business Travel and Meetings (EIBTM) in Barcelona.
Scotland’s potential economic impact rose from around £1 million in previous years to £8.5 million.
And – as a result – a record number of business tourism providers will showcase the country at this year’s EIBTM.
A total of 18 organisations will join Visit Scotland’s Business Tourism Unit (BTU) on the Scotland stand at the event, due to run from 30 November – 2 December.
The global event is aimed primarily at European buyers, but also attracts interest from North America, as well as emerging markets in Russia and South America.
Amanda Henderson, marketing manager of Visit Scotland’s BTU in Europe, said: “Increasingly tourism providers in Scotland are recognising the value of promoting what the country offers to international audiences.
“This will be the largest presence that Scotland has had at EIBTM which is testament to the strength of the European business tourism market, as well as to our partners’ confidence that EIBTM provides a good return on investment.”
In previous years attendance at the event has delivered around £1 million in potential economic impact from enquiries handled at the show.
But in 2009 – because of the strength of the Euro and the Dollar – the figure increased to almost £8.5 million, making it one of the strongest trade opportunities for Scotland.
Partners set to join the BTU on the Scotland stand this year include Dundas Castle, Unique Venues of Edinburgh consortium, The Old Course Hotel, Hotel Missoni, Apex Hotels and Cameron House.