In light of the culmination of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the topic of conversation will naturally turn to its legacy and the lasting impact it has on society. As the final ceremony drew to a close, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation branded it the “best Commonwealth Games ever.” The following roar from Hampden Park clearly showed how well this resonated with everyone involved with the event. Over one billion people turned on their televisions to witness some of the world’s best athletes compete with great spirit and dignity at the Games. But if the Scottish government’s objectives go according to plan, the closing ceremony need not be the end of the benefits for Scotland.
Six years of preparation and £313m worth of government contracts were needed to ensure that the events and festivities over the past 11 days proceeded as smoothly as possible. Of this hefty investment, Scottish companies secured 82 per cent of the financial gain to be awarded. Not only is this mutually beneficial for the private and public sector, but it has also provided a lifeline for many institutions that were still suffering from the 2008 recession. The Games are part of a long-term regeneration program for Glasgow’s East End, which should generate further employment and improve the infrastructure of a comparatively degraded suburb.
Glasgow’s ability to cope with thousands of visitors and host one of the world’s largest events has had a significantly positive impact on Scotland’s events industry. 37 national and international events have and will utilise the facilities featured in the Games at an economic impact of over £14m. A Barclays report on UK tourism dynamics estimates that these events will lead to a 28 per cent increase in tourist expenditure in Scotland over the next four years.
However, the same report points out that although foreign tourist spending will increase the most proportionally over this period, domestic tourist spending will increase more by volume and continues to provide five times more income overall. This means that it is crucial that Scottish cities differentiate themselves from other UK cities and make themselves attractive destinations for the British. Glasgow appears to have managed to use the Commonwealth Games effectively to achieve this feat. A £390m investment in the regeneration of its city centre prior to the games has resulted in the city establishing itself as a prime destination for shoppers. With over £70m worth of retail development, Glasgow can now claim its place as the most successful shopping location in the UK outside of London.
Aided by improved accessibility into the country through new airline routes and transport links, Scotland is proving itself as a key source of economic value for the UK. The Commonwealth Games have provided Glasgow and Scotland the opportunity to develop and market their city and country, and they have taken it with both hands. The Scottish government will continue to monitor the legacy of the Commonwealth Games and will confirm whether the positive economics results they are expecting come to fruition up to 2019.