Finance

Belfast’s conference sector closes in on £30 million of new business


Belfast’s events and conferencing sector has been given a much-needed boost after landing a major global award at the same time as closing in on £30 million of new business

Visit Belfast said it is on track to confirm £30 million of new business during 2021/2022 for future years.

Meanwhile, the city has also been named Best Events Destination at the Conference & Incentive Travel Magazine awards held in London.

Belfast wrestled back the title having previously held it in both 2018 and 2019.

The news will help a sector of the Northern Ireland economy which has arguably been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in particular.

Prior to the pandemic, Belfast had managed to secure a large number of high profile global conferences, helped by the International Conference Centre and widespread marketing by the wider sector.

Since March 2019 the city managed to retain 103 so-called “high value” events while also securing a further 15 new events.

In total, they are expected to deliver £81 million in economic impact for Belfast.

“Working closely with our funders and partners, we have an ambitious strategy to lead the business events industry through recovery and growth and this award could not have come at a better time as we ramp up our sales and marketing activity across all markets,” Visit Belfast’s Director of Business Development, Rachael McGuickin, said. “This prestigious industry acknowledgement is a big advantage for Belfast which could not have achieved without the collective hard work, innovation and support shown by our funder Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland, as well as our hospitality and tourism industry partners.”

ICC Belfast, the city’s £30 million purpose-built international convention centre, was Highly Commended in the ‘Best Venue’ category at this year’s annual C&IT awards, reflecting its team’s dedication to creating innovative solutions for clients that have seen it continue to deliver a range of events that have reached global audiences.

“We are absolutely delighted to be Highly Commended in the Best Venue category at this year’s C&IT Awards,” Oonagh O’Reilly, Director of Sales and Marketing at ICC Belfast, said. “Over the past year, our dedicated team have worked hard to create innovative solutions for clients, allowing us to deliver so many incredible events that reached a global audience. It’s a massive achievement for the whole team at ICC Belfast, and we look forward to delivering many more world-class events, both in-person and virtually.

“Despite being faced with unprecedented challenges over the past year, ICC Belfast has continued to deliver immersive experiences and innovative hybrid events, including the launch of One Young World 2023 and a new product suite for STATSports, both of which were held in the purpose-built Hybrid Studio.”

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