Boost as air routes conference set to land in Belfast
More than 100 airlines and 1,200 delegates are set to descend on Belfast as part of a major conference on air routes.
Routes Europe is set to bring together some of the world's biggest airlines and airports when it lands in the city in April 2017.
It is hoped the event will help attract new airlines to Northern Ireland, as well as open up additional international routes.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the three-day conference - now in its 12th year - could bring in more than £1.3m in the short-term alone.
"This conference has the potential to accelerate route development for Belfast and Northern Ireland," she added.
"Longer-term benefits will come from the extensive international PR coverage for Belfast and Northern Ireland that it will generate, which will enhance our profile as a tourism destination and as a location for hosting international events.
"The winning bid was prepared by a partnership led by Invest Northern Ireland and Visit Belfast, supported by tourism organisations and our two main airports.
"It is an excellent example of the power of organisations working together for the good of Northern Ireland."
Gerard Brown of Routes UBM EMEA said: "We are delighted to announce that Belfast will be our host city for the 12th Routes Europe in 2017.
"Delegates will be exposed to the business and tourism opportunities in Northern Ireland, and our hosts will have the opportunity to showcase the unprecedented £300m tourism infrastructure investment of recent years to the routes community."
Both Belfast airports welcomed the news.
Katy Best of Belfast City Airport said that the major conference would enable Belfast "to market the city and region like never before".
"We look forward to continuing to work with government to ensure we fully capitalise on the conference," she added.
The main conference is set to run from April 23 until 25, 2017.