Specialists & Staff

Eddie Friel



A native of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Eddie has spent over 35 years in both the public and private sectors of the tourism industry in the UK, USA and Canada. He has held senior management posts with Hertz Rent a Car, Swan National Car Rental and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) where he was Director North America based in New York. He returned to Scotland to join Scottish Opera as director of marketing and public relations.

Eddie was appointed the first chief eecutive of Greater Glasgow Tourist Board and developed the policies that helped transform Glasgow from a perceived decaying industrial city to a major tourist destination. He led Glasgow’s bid to become Cultural Capital of Europe 1990 and subsequently was appointed chairman of the 1990 marketing and communications board. He is credited as one of the first to recognize the role of cultural tourism in destination image building and subsequently as a driver of economic regeneration.

Eddie has won many awards including…

  • UK Tourism Marketing Award
  • Best UK Regional Tourist Board
  • Best UK Convention Bureau (Twice)
  • Scottish Marketing Awards
  • Scottish Advertising Awards

In 1991, Eddie was invited to return to Belfast as chief executive of NITB leaving in 1992 to establish his own consultancy business concentrating on city marketing. He has been an advisor to a number of UK, Irish, European, Russian and Chinese cities. He was a member of the board of directors of Scottish Opera, Chairman of Theatre Royal, Glasgow; founding director of the Glasgow International Jazz Festival and member of the board of directors of the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus and the International Association of Performing Arts Administrators. He was chairman of McCann Cities a division of McCann Erickson Advertising and a governor of Glasgow Caledonian University where he also served on the audit committee. He is a regular broadcaster and writer on city marketing, tourism and the arts.

Eddie was invited to return to Glasgow tourism in 1997. He is currently a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; A Fellow of the Tourism Society; visiting professor at Strathclyde University since 1992; He has been a member of the board of directors of the Citizens Theatre Glasgow and the Scottish Ensemble; he is past president of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce; and a former director of Tourism Training Scotland Limited; the Merchants House of Glasgow; the European Chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and of European Cities Tourism. He is a former lay member of the board of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome and a former member of the board of the Mungo Foundation in Glasgow.

Eddie was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University by Glasgow University at a ceremony on October 16, 2001. He was presented with Glasgow’s ‘Loving Cup’ by the Lord Provost of Glasgow in June 2002 in recognition of his contribution to the city. He received the Tourism Lifetime Achievement Awardfrom Niagara University in November 2002 and an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Strathclyde University in May 2003. In July 2004, he was elected a Freeman of the City of Glasgow.  He was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 for services to tourism in Scotland in the New Year’s Honours List in December 2004 and Niagara University awarded him an honorary doctorate in commercial science in October 2005. He was awarded The Scottish Hotel Fellowship 2006 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry of Scotland.

During his second term at the helm of Glasgow Tourism, Eddie pioneered the introduction of electronic bid documents for the convention industry which resulted in Glasgow being recognized as the fastest growing convention destination in Europe.  Critically, he also gained political support, both nationally and locally, for the tourism industry by demonstrating the contribution tourism makes to the local economy through the number of new jobs created by the sector.

In March 2004, Eddie devised and launched a new brand for Glasgow, which received widespread support from within the Glasgow community and is currently enjoying enormous success. He believes in cities as centers of creativity, innovation and wealth creation and has traveled the globe speaking at conferences to persuade his audience that urban regions are the unit of analysis of economic performance in the competitive, 21st century, global economy. Friel is equally concerned that young people are provided with the education and skills they need to compete in the world as it is, rather than our notions of the world as we might like it to be. 

The Northern Ireland First Minister and Deputy First Minister appointed Eddie to the board of ILEX, the urban regeneration company for the city of Derry/Londonderry and the first to be established in Ireland. He was chairman of the board of directors and also chaired the Personnel and Remuneration Committee. 

Eddie is currently expert-in-residence at the Hospitality and Research Center at Niagara University. He is president and C.E.O. of his own consultancy business, EFA Tourism & City Marketing Ltd.  He is a member of the board of directors of Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation.