A proposal for a new, state-of-the-art, green conference centre in Aberdeen promises to answer the growing demands for 21st century events.
Built originally to host the biennial SPE Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, the Aberdeen Exhibitions and Conference Centre (AECC) has an enviable pedigree. As a bespoke conference centre, it hosts every type and scale of event from meetings and banquets to large exhibitions and conferences as well as shows and concerts.
When the AECC was built 29 years ago, no-one could have predicted the enormous demand it would be under today. In 2013/14 the AECC welcomed 33,570 event delegates over 43 event days. It attracted 62,693 attendees over 25 entertainment and sporting events. According to its corporate review, business in 2013/14 reached its highest in the company’s history.
Demands on the AECC
However, the venue is increasingly struggling to grow its business because the physical capacity simply isn’t there. “At times we’ve had to turn down major music events because our main multi-purpose arena is already booked for an exhibition, or because the touring stage simply won’t fit in the venue,” Victoria Withy, Head of Communications at AECC told us. The AECC struggles to live up to the likes of its more modern cousins, like Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, especially when it comes to major music concerts.
During large scale conferences like the SPE Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition Aberdeen’s accommodation provision is full to capacity, with the 63,000 + attendees staying throughout the wider North-East region.
That’s why in 2012 the AECC owners - Aberdeen City Council - invited bidders to pitch solutions to bring its capabilities bang up to date.
Henry Boot Developments was selected as preferred bidder for the project. The proposal, to build a new tailor-made centre near Dyce, will be well-situated for Aberdeen International Airport and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (the new city bypass) which is due to open in early 2018.
The business case for the proposed new AECC will be considered by councillors in December, and the planning process − the final stage before building work can commence − will follow.
Boost to the local economy
Victoria Withy told us, “We cater for the big conferences onsite, sourcing the best local produce for our banqueting, for example. But with this new development there’s great potential for increasing business tourism as well as leisure tourism in the area.”
“We’re working on creating bespoke tours for visitors, for instance, organising evening banquets at hotels and castles, golf tours and distilleries visits. By doing that we encourage people to come back to visit. Once they’ve had a taste of Aberdeen City and Shire they will want to see more.”
Councillor Jenny Laing, Leader of Aberdeen City Council agrees, “This proposed development, in an already established area for business, development signifies growth and jobs for the Aberdeen economy. The preferred bid includes hotels, offices, leisure facilities, and even its own green energy centre designed to be self-sufficient.”
This new proposed venue promises to bring excellent business opportunities for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
BBC Scotland news on the new AECC proposal.