Scottish exhibition and conference organisers are bracing themselves for challenging conditions when the pope and his popemobile descend on Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The leader of the religious world is due to arrive in Edinburgh at 10.30am on 16 September for a state reception at the palace of Holyroodhouse as the public participates in the St Ninian’s Day parade. The pope will drive through the city and attend lunch before travelling to Glasgow, arriving at 4.45pm to oversee mass. He then heads to London on an evening flight for a two-day visit, followed by Birmingham on 19 September.
Scottish pundits anticipate 165,000 visitors will flock to Edinburgh and Glasgow cities to see the pontiff and participate in public celebrations.
One exhibition organiser working to minimise collateral damage from the visit is Western Business Exhibitions, which runs the Health and Safety Expo at The Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh. Event director, Tim Else, said practical measures taken included opening the show an hour earlier (8am) on 16 September to encourage visitors to get in before road closures start, as well as providing exhibitors and visitors with maps detailing roads closed and detours.
“I think we’re going to quickly learn what the relationship is between Scottish Catholics and Scottish safety managers,” Else told Exhibition News. “Our practical approach has included making sure that our show security is right, and that parking is exclusively reserved for exhibitors and visitors, which is what The Royal Highland Centre has assured us.
“It remains to be seen what affect this will have – to underestimate the effect a papal visit is foolish.”
Event organiser for the 12th combined meeting of the Orthopaedic Association 2010 in Glasgow, Vicki Grant, said the main impact of the visit would be on the exhibition breakdown, which was scheduled for the afternoon.
“We’ve had to make a contingency for extended breakdown into Friday in case vehicles are delayed getting into Glasgow,” she said.