Host City: Thank you Paul for your support of Host City 2021, we are really looking forward to hearing you speak again as the host of this important conference. The opening panel, which you are chairing, is called “The impact of, and lessons from, the pandemic”. Obviously, the impact has been devastating on the events industry, but are there any positives to be drawn from the last 19 months?
Paul Bush: The last 19 months have been difficult especially as 2021 did not unfold the way many of us were hoping for with restrictions in place for longer than we’d anticipated, economic uncertainty, and travel adaptations. However, amongst this climate of consistent uncertainty, the events industry continued to adapt and innovate, developing a range of resilient responses that allowed sporting, cultural and business events to take place. Here is Scotland that has included the continuation of online and hybrid events; proof of negative tests and the introduction of the COVID vaccine verification scheme for entry into events; and adapting performances so audiences have the choice between social distanced and non-socially distanced shows.
Host City: Event hosts have for obvious reasons had to focus much more on supporting domestic events and become more localised in their activities. Do you think this will be a lasting effect of the pandemic, or as travel restrictions continue to ease will you become just as focused on international events as before?
Paul Bush: Domestic events have always been an important part of our events portfolio alongside international events. Through our National Events Strategy, Scotland the Perfect Stage, we have always carefully selected a mix of events of various types and categories that are staged throughout the country and throughout the year in order to bring social and economic impact.
For the last 19 months, our main focus has been on supporting the events industry, particularly the events supply chain, to survive the pandemic. Through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund, which we established in conjunction with the Scottish Government, we have been helping Scotland’s events sector plan and deliver events and supported them to adapt to the effects of COVID-19. This has included supporting community events as well as events that drive domestic tourism.
As we move forward, domestic events will play an important part of in Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic alongside international events, however, what I do see coming into the mix more will be community events as they will help us to rebuild the industry as well has creating opportunities for communities to come together, which is especially important given the opportunity to interact with those close to us has been limited over the last 19 months.
Host City: Scotland has just hosted a huge international event, COP26. What impact has hosting this had on the nation, and what impact do you think the outcomes might have on the events industry?
Paul Bush: COP26 was another opportunity to show why Scotland is the perfect stage of events to both a domestic and global audience. Welcoming world leaders, climate experts and activists to Glasgow and Scotland for two weeks whilst still dealing with a pandemic took great coordination and cooperate across multiple agencies at a local, national and international level.
In October we published The Contribution of Events to Scotland’s Wellbeing, a piece of research commissioned alongside the Event Industry Advisory Group to further understand and examine how events contribute to Scotland’s wellbeing.
One of the key findings showed that major events have the potential to enhance the reputation of our cities and communities internationally as well as help build civic pride. So, like other major events that have been held in Scotland, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 FIG World Artistic Gymnastics and the 2019 Solheim Cup, I believe COP26 has helped further build a sense of pride and confidence both within the community and within the events industry.
Host City: The biggest international event Scotland is hosting in the future is the UCI 2023 World Cycling Championships – a new event that was very much created in partnership between host, rights owner and broadcaster. What are your expectations of this innovative event?
Paul Bush: Simply put, it will be like nothing Scotland and the world has ever seen before. By combining 13 UCI World Championships together in one mega event we are doing something that has never been done before and something that will deliver lasting benefits not just for cycling as a sport but for its impact across society in Scotland.
As well as a world-class sporting spectacle featuring more than 8,000 elite and amateur athletes from more than 120 countries, the Championships are being delivered as a purpose-led event with key policy objectives at the core. There is no doubt the Championships gives us a unique opportunity to encourage more people to cycle for sport, transport and for tourism as well as helping combat key issues such as climate change. The timing of the Championships could not be better.
It is hugely exciting that the UCI has entrusted us with the opportunity of delivering the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships and we are looking forward to cementing our reputation as an innovative and forward-thinking event host with a Championships that exceeds all expectations.
Host City: Similarly you have teamed up with European Athletics to deliver the Dynamic New Athletics Indoor (DNA) in Glasgow in February 2022. This sounds like a format that’s just right for the times we live in – can you tell us a bit about what we can expect?
Paul Bush: We’re delighted Glasgow and Scotland have been chosen to host the very first DNA indoors. The event concept is aimed at engaging new audiences with an exciting, easy to follow, short format whilst creating a lively atmosphere with music and fun event presentation.
The innovative, team-based competition will see mixed teams of 18 athletes from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Spain and Turkey compete in 11 events across both track and field over two hours at Emirates Arena in Glasgow on 5 February. Everything counts with two to 12 points awarded each event, with the last event – the Hunt – deciding the winning team.
Securing this event for one of Scotland’s flagship venues reinforces Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events and as a world leader in the delivery of innovative new events.
Host City: The good news keeps coming for Scotland, with Glasgow having just been awarded the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships. Why – and how – was Scotland selected to host this event?
Paul Bush: We are absolutely delighted Glasgow and Scotland has been chosen to host the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships. Our success is routed in our partnership approach and we worked with Glasgow Life, UK Sport and UK Athletics to complete World Athletics bid process to secure this major event.
In our bid we set out our vision to work with them to set a new benchmark in event hosting and demonstrated our experience in achieving this for other events, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 European Championships. We also demonstrated our policy-led approach to delivering events, ensuring we deliver positive impacts that are sustainable and last well beyond the event.
The Championships joins a portfolio of major events to be taking place in Scotland over the coming years and reinforces our reputation as a global leader in the delivery of innovative and world class events.
Host City: Thank you very much for your time Paul. One last question: what are your expectations of Host City 2021?
Paul Bush: My expectations for Host City 2021 are for another great two days filled with lively debate, discussion and knowledge sharing as we all look to refresh, regenerate and reconnect across a number of topics, including the pandemic and the climate emergency, impacting events now and into the future. I look forward to seeing everyone there.