Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Plenty of reasons why Belfast is ideal for lucrative conferences

One of the most lucrative types of traveller to any region – aside from golfers, obviously – are the ones who arrive in suits.

Inward business travel brings with it expense accounts, taxi trips, a requirement for fairly plush hotel rooms and many other services, all of which help pump money into the Northern Ireland economy.

And while the number of tourists travelling to these shores has been impacted by the downturn in the economy, the number of business travellers has also obviously taken a hit, one we could do without.

Activity in both sectors of the tourism industry has been picking up of late, but there's also been a growth in the number of conferences and events being held here, ones which bring people in from all over the world, as the story to the left testifies.

These can be incredibly lucrative, not just for the venues holding the event but for a multitude of other businesses which feed off the business traveller.

So how do we stand when compared with other cities around the world and what would help put us to the top of the list of potential venues?

Key air links with London, and indeed some of the European capitals such as Amsterdam and Paris, are obviously key if we're to get people here and there's no doubting that particular offering has improved drastically over the years.

And the range of venues is obviously important, one which again has come into its own recently with the likes of the Titanic building and Waterfront Hall, although there is a school of thought that we need a venue capable of seating up to 2,000 people for dinner, as can the Dublin Convention Centre.

But when it comes to Belfast, there's one big bonus we have as a conference venue that others can only hope for and that's size. Rather than in London or other huge capital cities, attendees are kept within the relatively localised confines of the city and aren't likely to get lost wandering between venue and hotel.

And, as a well-travelled business man mentioned to this reporter recently, being able to walk around a conference city is a big benefit for organisers and attendees alike and should be used as bait to win even more events in the future.

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