Artist's rendering of the Jumeriah Glasgow
When I sat down at the Glasgow Media Luncheon this afternoon, the gentleman next to me began to describe what the city was like 30 years ago. Its primary economy of shipping had suffered, and the city was getting a negative reputation that was not unlike New York’s at the same time, he said.
But just as New York in 2009 is nothing like New York in 1979 or even 1989, Glasgow has reinvented itself to become a beacon of culture and art in Scotland. About 30,000 people in a city of 1.2 million (including the suburbs) are employed in the tourism industry. Museums and luxury hotels are opening throughout the city (at least 2,500 new hotel rooms are expected to debut within the next five years; 160 of these will be in the Jumeriah Glasgow and 85 in the Blythswood Hotel) and a new National Arena will open in 2012 or 2013, just in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Arts and culture festivals take place throughout the year, and 2009 has become a yearlong celebration called “Homecoming Scotland,” honoring the 250th birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns.
As hosts Scott Taylor, chief executive of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, and Nancy McLardie, head of PR for the same company, explained, Glasgow is growing its own culture rather than “poaching” from other destinations in the UK. The effort has paid off: Last August, the city was named the UNESCO City of Music, and Taylor and McLardie estimate that 127 music events happen in Glasgow every week.