Belfast is best for events

Belfast wins double at industry awards in London

(l-r) Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey is pictured with Chief Executive of Visit Belfast Gerry Lennon; Susie Brown, Interim Director of Corporate Development at Tourism Northern Ireland; and Catherine Toolan, Managing Director of the newly repositioned ICC Belfast

Belfast was named the Best Events Destination, and the newly repositioned ICC Belfast, formerly Belfast Waterfront, was named Best Venue at the Conference and Incentive Travel magazine (C&IT) Awards in London on Friday 21 September 2018.

Fending off competition from event destinations such as Monaco, Rotterdam and the Hague, and Dublin; and venues including London’s ExCeL and the Convention Centre Dublin, these recent wins are representative of a tourism industry that has gone from strength to strength in recent years, helped by investment in world-class conference venues, attractions and experiences.

Demonstrating the strength of the business tourism sector, Visit Belfast reported that together with its city partners, Belfast welcomed over 55,000 national and international conference delegates in the 12 months to June 2018 – a 77 percent increase on the previous 12 months – generating £52 million for the local economy.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, welcomed the awards, saying “I am thrilled to see these two significant wins added to Belfast’s growing list of accolades.

“Attracting conferences, meetings and business events to Belfast is so important – not only in generating tourism bednights and revenue for our city, but also in showcasing the city as an attractive place to visit, as well as study and invest.

“Tourism is centre stage in supporting the aspirations of the Belfast Agenda: where everyone benefits from a thriving and prosperous economy; where Belfast is welcoming, safe, fair and inclusive; and where Belfast is a vibrant, attractive, connected and environmentally sustainable destination.”

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added “These awards are judged by a panel of events industry experts, and will be invaluable to Visit Belfast and the wider city as we work to meet our ambitious targets for growth, contributing to doubling the value of tourism by 2020,”

“These awards recognise the success of our collaborative approach to tourism development. They are an important sales tool, helping to reinforce Belfast’s position as a premier business tourism destination. They will be a key credential for the city in winning new business and keeping Belfast competitive at the highest levels, thereby supporting our tourism industry by delivering important year-round and mid-week business to our city’s hospitality and tourism industries.”

Belfast Waterfront, which officially repositioned its brand to ICC Belfast in the conferencing market at the beginning of this month took home the top prize in the ‘Best Venue’ category. Managing Director, Catherine Toolan commented “To be recognised as the winner of such a competitive category is testament to the efforts of our experienced and ambitious team who constantly strive to ensure that every visitor to our venue has a world-class experience. I am confident that by continuing to work in collaboration with our city partners we will be able to make Belfast a world-leading business tourism destination. If we do this, everyone in our city and beyond can benefit socially, culturally and economically. Today, tomorrow and beyond.”

Commenting on the awards, John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI said “Northern Ireland is fast-becoming a destination of choice for business events as we offer award winning venues, top quality hotels, a compelling destination offering along with a range of support to bring conferences and incentive programmes here.

“ICC Belfast is a world-class conference and exhibition facility and thanks to a recent £30m investment, Northern Ireland is now able to compete for larger international conferences such as the Royal College of Nursing Annual Congress held in May 2018, which saw 5,000 delegates descend on Belfast for the five-day event.

“We congratulate both Visit Belfast and ICC Belfast on receiving these awards and wish them continued success representing Northern Ireland as a destination of choice in the business tourism industry.”

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