Tourism minister Fergus Ewing has been tipped as a future Finance Secretary for an initiative that is predicted to generate £56 million from just over £500,000.
John Swinney was urged to "watch his back" by Conservative tourism spokeswoman Mary Scanlon following the announcement that Mr Ewing`s Conference Bid Fund (CBF) has attracted 18 lucrative business conferences in just eight months.
But Labour finance spokesman Ken Macintosh said Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council should take a share of the credit for Scotland's business tourism success, attacking the tourism proposals of the largely SNP opposition in the city.
Mr Macintosh said Glasgow needs to "move away from the association with alcohol" and said some areas need to work on their "people skills", citing a particularly charmless encounter in Paisley. He said Scottish tourism benefits from a "union dividend" and also called for the resurrection of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link that the SNP cancelled during its first term in government.
Mr Ewing said: "We launched the CBF in March 2012 which has provided £2 million over three years to match fund bids for major conferences for key sectors.
"Visit Scotland has estimated 18 conferences have been secured thus far with the CBF, with an estimated economic impact of £56 million between 2013 and 2020 with a spend of £527,000. I can't think of many uses to which taxpayers' money has been put to have seen such returns. The total return to the public purse for every £1 spent has been £53."
Ms Scanlon commended Mr Ewing`s announcement, adding: "John Swinney, watch your back. Fergus could perhaps also expect a call from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank or (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel herself. Well done, I fully support what has been said here."
Mr Macintosh said the UK accounts for three-quarters of total tourism expenditure, adding: "I think that union dividend is an important point to bear in mind." He welcomed the CBF and pointed out that it is match funded by Scotland's cities, hailing Glasgow as "the number one city for business tourism outside London".
"That's not happened by accident, it's happened because of strong committed leadership from the city council," he said.
Business tourism has generated £120 million to Glasgow in the first six months of the current financial year, he added, the same as the whole of last year.