Conferences could bring £80m to Belfast by March next year
Belfast has the potential to bring in £80m from the lucrative conference and events sector by the end of March, it's been claimed.
In the financial year to the end of March 2013, Visit Belfast's business tourism team had booked in more than £27m worth of new, inbound meetings and conference events for the city, up 70% on the year before.
The team is now targeting a combined total of £80m worth of business booked for the three years to the end of March 2014.
In a new business tourism campaign, Hastings Hotel Group, Hilton Northern Ireland, Flybe, Belfast Waterfront and Assembly Buildings, have joined forces with Visit Belfast, Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to target conference organisers as part of a major push to showcase the city's growing conference capabilities and expertise.
In recent years the city has attracted events like the MTV European Music Awards, the World Seed Congress conference, the World Police and Fire Games and the recent international investment conference which followed on from the G8 summit in Fermanagh.
The new campaign aims to challenge perceptions and position Belfast as an exciting events destination and hopes to persuade event organisers that 'It's Time to Visit Belfast' for their next conference or meeting.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir, said that the city is inspiring, vibrant, welcoming, and economical. We are now home to leading hotels, attractions and conference facilities which rival the best in the world but we need to ensure that organisers are aware of what Belfast has to offer," he said.
"With plans progressing well towards the development of a new, state-of-the-art £30m extension to the award-winning facilities at the Belfast Waterfront, it's time to up the ante."
Alan Clarke, chief executive of Northern Ireland Tourist Board, added: "As a strategic partner to Visit Belfast in the promotion of the city as a leading business tourism destination, we are delighted by the progress achieved to date.
"As the gateway city to Northern Ireland, Belfast is capable of staging and hosting major conferences and events and I'm pleased that a co-ordinated approach in delivering tourism growth continues to deliver strong results."