The IAPCO Council Meeting is hosted this week by Tourism Northern Ireland in Belfast. The international panel met with representatives from Tourism Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Visit Belfast, Visit Derry and ICC Belfast as well as industry professionals and key political stakeholders. Securing conferencing and business events is deemed a critical driver in the region’s economic recovery post-Covid.
According to Tourism Northern Ireland’s recently launched Integrated Strategy for Business Events in Northern Ireland, it is estimated that the sector could deliver £209 million in direct economic impact, and up to 2000 new jobs by 2030.
The busy programme of events, of which Tourism Northern Ireland was the Corporate Sponsor, saw IAPCO Council members sampling local hospitality and attractions including Titanic Belfast, a tour of the Cathedral Quarter and events at both ICC Belfast and the Grand Central Hotel.
Martin Boyle, Chief Executive of IAPCO commented: “The economic impact and social legacy that results from people gathering for business and professional events can never be underestimated. It’s important for IAPCO and our members that we all work in close collaboration with destination stakeholders to ensure this remains a fundamental driver in the years to come.
“All of our attending Council members are delighted to have touched down in Belfast to connect with one another and share their experiences and insights. We are looking forward to connecting to local event partners and to further understand the city’s capabilities for future events. We very much appreciate the opportunity to explore Belfast and would like to thank Team Northern Ireland for co-ordinating the visit.”
In 2019, IAPCO members delivered 21,423 meetings and events worldwide with an economic impact of 13.8 billion euros. Even through the pandemic in 2020, IAPCO members still delivered 13,300 meetings and events.
ICC Belfast hosted a business breakfast on Friday to showcase the venue as Belfast’s only purpose-built conference centre. Ellvena Graham, Chairperson of ICC Belfast, said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome the IAPCO Council to Belfast and to showcase our fantastic venue and citywide offering to our guests. We recognise that business events are crucial to Northern Ireland’s economic development, and we look forward to collaborating with our partners, and organisations such as IAPCO to achieve the goals set out in the Integrated Strategy for Business Events.”
The Integrated Strategy for Business Events in Northern Ireland, launched by Tourism Northern Ireland in March this year, is seeking to double the number of international conferences hosted annually and attract three times the number of delegates from the UK and Ireland by 2030.
John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism NI said: “Conference and business events are a crucial part of Northern Ireland's visitor economy and can play a major role in securing investment and job creation across the region. Our latest estimates show that the sector could deliver £209 million in direct economic impact, and up to 2000 new jobs by 2030. The Northern Ireland Business Events Strategy, sets out an integrated approach to achieve a significant increase in our share of the lucrative business events market and by partnering with IAPCO, we now have the potential to achieve this.” He added: “As business events return, we look forward to working collaboratively with Visit Belfast, Visit Derry and ICC Belfast in rebuilding the sector. I wish all council members an enjoyable stay here and we hope you return again soon.”
Showcasing some of the city’s key venues, attractions and experiences, Rachael McGuickin Visit Belfast’s Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation said: “Business meetings, events and conferences generate vital mid-week business that helps to sustain and support hospitality and tourism businesses throughout the year.
“Investment, dedicated and targeted sales and marketing and the passion and hard work of the entire industry has seen Belfast develop into a highly attractive international conference destination. Hosting such an influential group of industry leaders provides hugely positive exposure and a significant opportunity to further elevate Belfast and Northern Ireland’s presence in the global meetings marketplace. We’re confident that this landmark visit and future engagement with IAPCO by Visit Belfast and our partners will help the region win a greater share of business events in the years to come.”
Visit Derry’s Chief Executive, Odhran Dunne added: “We are delighted to welcome the IAPCO Council to Belfast and showcase Northern Ireland as a globally competitive destination for business tourism events. International meetings and conferences play an important part in the economic recovery and future growth of Northern Ireland and Derry/Londonderry. Collaborating with influential partners such as IAPCO plays a pivotal role in unlocking the potential of our business events sector and helps us achieve our ambitious goal of doubling the number of international conferences hosted annually and attracting three times the number of delegates from the UK and Ireland by 2030.”
Following their departure on Sunday 29th May, the Council members will travel to IMEX Frankfurt, one of the largest trade events in the business events calendar attended by over 5,100 global decision makers with qualified buying power.