Belfast Telegraph

Conference bookings set to boost coffers by £27m as Belfast pulls in corporate visitors

By David Elliott

Belfast will benefit to the tune of £27m after a ramp-up in the number of meetings and conferences booked over the last year, according to new figures from Visit Belfast.

The promotions body said the bookings, taken in the year to the end of March 2013, are up 70% on the previous year and will provide a big boost to the city.

Some events have already taken place, while others are planned for the coming four years but in total they'll bring in 21,000 delegates which will generate 63,000 bed-nights for the city's hotel trade and that, according to a formula used by Visit Britain, will have an economic impact of £27.2m.

The news comes after the city picked up the 'Best UK Conference and Incentive City Destination' award at the Conference & Incentive Travel Excellence Awards in London.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland's ability to service the conference market was important.

"When I spoke to journalists in South Africa recently, one of the questions they asked me was what facilities for meetings, conferences and events Northern Ireland could offer corporate visitors," she said.

"I was able to tell them Northern Ireland is already proving itself to be a world class venue with outstanding venues – this award is testament to that.

"Growing our business tourism sector creates and sustains local jobs, supports the mid-week economy, drives investment and further propels our reputation to host major events and I'm particularly pleased that Belfast is competing at the highest level in the UK."

Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon added: "To have secured the endorsement of the influential C&IT panellists – at a time when the battle for conference wins is at its greatest – is an important achievement and our organisation looks forward to building on this latest success as we continue to strengthen our growing reputation as world-class conference destination."

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