Hospitality and tourism businesses across Scotland have pledged more than 300 new jobs, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities for young people.
The event at Glasgow's Marriott hotel, on 22 October, was part of the Big Hospitality Conversation, and saw companies make 342 pledges, including 97 jobs, 65 apprenticeships and 180 work experience placements, for young people aged 16 to 24 hoping to enter the hospitality industry.
He said: "The spotlight has been shining on Scotland for most of 2014 with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the Year of Homecoming events, not to mention the political activities. Now's the time for the Scottish hospitality industry to capitalise on its international notoriety. It was wonderful to see so many high profile businesses coming together to provide opportunities to the next generation of hospitality professionals."
Businesses in attendance at the event also included Accor hotels, Gleneagles hotel, Gather and Gather, Marriott hotels, Whitbread hotels and restaurants, Jurys Inn, Ed's Easy Diner, and Apex hotels. Representatives for the City of Glasgow College, Fife Council, Glasgow City Council Education Services, north Lanarkshire Council Dumfries and Galloway Council also attended.
William Macleod, executive director of British Hospitality Association (BHA) Scotland, highlighted hospitality's key role in building international understanding, and its resilience and innovation in the wake of the economic upheaval of recent years.
He said: "What's important now is that tourism is given every support to succeed, grow and compete internationally."
Led by the BHA, the Big Hospitality Conversation is a nationwide partnership working to create more opportunities for young people, and has seen over 34,000 new jobs and placements pledged to date. It is also run in partnership with Believe in Young People, charity Springboard, Barclays bank, Business in the Community, People 1st and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim reiterated the campaign's aim to create 60,000 new opportunities by 2016.
She said: "Hospitality is a vibrant and successful industry with even greater growth prospects offering a vast range of career opportunities. The Big Hospitality Conversation has been changing young people's lives, one apprenticeship, one job, or one work experience at a time."
Overall, the BHA is seeking to create 300,000 new opportunities across the UK industry by 2020.