ONE particular line leapt out of our business editor Ian McConnell's exclusive interview this week with Andy Cliffe, the boss of Glasgow Airport.

Glasgow, Mr Cliffe said, was a hugely powerful city but one that is currently not punching its weight. If stakeholders combined their efforts to bring about progress, he added, huge opportunities await. He is surely right.

Mr Cliffe wants to see an increase in targeted activity to promote inbound tourism to Glasgow and its surrounding region, believing that Scotland's largest city loses out from the current, pan-Scottish approach to tourism promotion.

HeraldScotland: Andy Cliffe, boss of Glasgow AirportAndy Cliffe, boss of Glasgow Airport (Image: Getty Images)

Forty years after the launch of the assertive Glasgow Miles Better campaign, which packaged a confident new identity for the city, it is striking that Glasgow seems to have lost ground, even allowing for the damage wreaked by the pandemic. Has the cumulative impact of that 1980s campaign, the 1988 Garden Festival and the 1990 Year of Culture, and much else, been squandered, or at least not energetically sustained?

Glasgow Airport boss Andy Cliffe: 'Powerful' city not punching weight

Glasgow's attractions need little introduction, as befits a city that is home to the Burrell, Kelvingrove art gallery and museum, the Riverside transport museum, the Science Centre and the Hydro, to say nothing of highly-rated universities, a plethora of sports events and facilities, an abundance of green spaces, Victorian buildings, good transport links, and a friendly people. Outwith the Scottish Event Campus - the Hydro, Armadillo and SECC - and the annual Celtic Connections and TRNSMT festivals, there is a thriving live-music scene. Picturesque Loch Lomond lies on Glasgow's doorstep.

For all this, and for all the numbers of tourists who visit Glasgow, it is noteworthy that an authoritative figure such as Mr Cliffe wants to see inbound tourism getting a greater promotional push than it has been witnessing.

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A wider issue concerns the promotion of the strengths of Glasgow City Region. Mr Cliffe cites the per-capita economic output, successes in innovations and skills, the universities, advanced manufacturing. Others come to mind. To compensate for what he sees as the absence of a coherent approach, he has commendably been holding talks with a range of bodies - the city council, the Chamber of Commerce, Renfrewshire Council, Scottish Enterprise, and the universities. It is an intelligent and useful start, but the fact it has been down to an airport boss to facilitate such talks might imply a piecemeal approach thus far.

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Not for the first time we cast mildly envious eyes at the success of many of the Metro mayors south of the border. These elected figures - among them Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has half-a-million followers on Twitter - have a high profile and much authority, and can get things done. The success of Mr Burnham and of Greater Manchester's Combined Authority is food for thought as they set about transforming public services and shaping the future of the region. It is tempting to speculate about the impact that such a powerful figure might have had in running the Glasgow City Region.

Glasgow Airport itself is eyeing the future. In terms of the total number of seats on flights it is back to around 86% of its 2019 pre-pandemic levels. It is targeting the return of North American connections and European paired destinations. Its involvement in the leisure market has been a success, with TUI and Jet2 increasing flights from Glasgow. Mr Cliffe pointedly remarked that Glasgow Airport could "absolutely" serve the Scottish Government-owned Prestwick Airport's market.

Edinburgh Airport flights from Scotland to Beijing, China

Glasgow Airport is also exploring the potential of adding China to its roster of long-haul destinations. Edinburgh Airport's launch of a new direct flight route, twice a week, between Scotland and China will open up a wealth of new business opportunities. Direct flights from Glasgow to Beijing would be desirable, given not just the number of Chinese students who are studying at Glasgow universities but also the increasing spending-power and appetite for foreign travel on the part of China's colossal middle-classes.

Beyond that, the airport would benefit from a new public-transport rail link, a project that has been mooted often in the past without coming to anything. Stuart Patrick, CEO of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, noted in these pages a few months ago that what in other countries would be a fairly uncontroversial infrastructure investment has, in Glasgow, come and gone. Many hopes are now being pinned on the Metro Link.

Stuart Patrick: A lot still to do to meet city targets

The Herald will continue to scrutinise the successes or otherwise of Glasgow City Region. Much commendable work has been done in recovering from the debilitating effects of the pandemic but what is required now is lots more joined-up thinking on the part of its constituent bodies - its stakeholders - so that the city region can achieve its full potential. The momentum of Mr Cliffe's initiative cannot be spurned.