THE top-level statistics show just how important conferences and conventions are to the economy of Scotland’s capital city.

Marketing Edinburgh, the organisation responsible for bringing events to the city, said it had secured conference business worth £75 million in 2016 for events to be held in the coming years. In terms of economic impact, that number is likely will be amplified as businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops reap the benefit when conference delegates arrive in the city.

But business tourism is a hugely competitive market. Not only is Edinburgh up against fellow UK cities, including its rival at the other end of the M8 motorway, but destinations literally all over the world.

In that context, Edinburgh’s rise to 27th place in the benchmark ICCA Global City Index in 2016 was hugely encouraging for the city.

But maintaining that position will not be easy. As Marketing Edinburgh’s Amanda Ferguson acknowledged, the conference and conventions market is “sensitive to uncertainty”, the kind of which is readily abundant thanks to the fall-out from the Brexit vote. As such, it is expected that 2017 will not have been such a lucrative year in terms of the value of new conference business secured compared with the year before.

Granted, the fall in the pound which quickly followed the decision to leave the European Union has made the cost of booking events in UK cities more competitive. But there can be no doubt conference venues would much prefer to attract events because of the vibrancy of their local economies, not simply because the rates are cheap.