AN Inverbervie woman who has brought thousands of delegates to Aberdeen City and Shire and helped plough millions of pounds into the local economy as head of the Aberdeen Convention Bureau (ACB) retired last week after 13 years in the post.
Jacky Selway headed up the team at Aberdeen Convention Bureau, which proactively promotes Aberdeen City and Shire to attract new conferences to the region.
Since moving to Aberdeenshire in 1998, she has seen many changes to the area as a conference destination and believes recent developments and investments mean Aberdeen city is now in a strong position to compete for lucrative international conferences, with huge ancillary benefits in supporting local economic growth.
“When I first moved to Aberdeen we had the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and Offshore Europe was well established but we needed to bring in more conferences and from a wider spread of industries,” she said. “The oil industry was booming but when there was a dip, the hotels were looking for business.
“Our team also expanded over the years as we realised we had to be less reliant on oil and gas and bring in business from conferences that had a choice of venue.
“We were able to tap into the expertise in Aberdeen in areas such as renewable energy, life sciences and medical research and successfully win events, such as the World Marine Biodiversity Conference that has been secured for September and is worth more than £2million to the local economy.
“Around ten per cent of delegates attending international conferences bring partners, so for every four-day conference of 500 delegates from the international association sector, the economic benefit would be in the region of £750,000.”
Jacky added: “Key factors in encouraging delegates to stay longer are the local history and a strong leisure offering, such as golf and fishing, which we are extremely well-placed to offer along with the natural scenery and clean air.”
Jacky was Chair of the British Association of Conference Destinations and was made a Burgess of the Guild of the City of Aberdeen in 2002.
She credits the redevelopment of the AECC in 2003 as a turning point in Aberdeen’s reputation as a conference destination.
“Prior to that we didn’t really have the capacity to compete for international business but this meant that business more than doubled and we are able to attract all sorts of conferences,” she said.
“I think the future is exciting for Aberdeen. It’s gathering momentum and has real visionary aspects as we move forward.”
Jacky plans to spend her retirement at home in Inverbervie, pursuing hobbies including writing stories, and spending time with her daughter and three grandsons.
“I have had the opportunity to travel to many different places and experience wonderful things, from having dinners in castles and hearing Desmond Tutu address an international convention to taking a flight in a microlight plane and river rafting with a group of conference buyers.
“I will miss the people I have met although I know the team will continue to do a great job and build on the solid foundation we have already achieved. Most of all, I’ll miss the chase as that’s where the job satisfaction comes from – knowing you have approached a conference organiser, persuaded them to come to Aberdeen, sold the area and secured the business and then seeing them go home full of positive stories about the North-east.”