Business

Waterfront venue to become 'ICC Belfast' from next month

From the Waterfront Hall to ICC Belfast as popular venue aims to tap into the global conferencing market
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE Waterfront Hall ceases to be on October 1 - from when it will be known as International Convention Centre (ICC) Belfast.

Just as the Odyssey became the SSE Arena, Dublin's Point Depot morphed into the O2 (then 3) Arena, and Lansdowne Road became the Aviva Stadium, Belfast's biggest conference and events venue has taken on what is meant to be a snappier moniker.

The move, which comes less than two years after a £30 million extension to the facility, is specifically designed to appeal to the global conference market and tap into a £5 billion worldwide conferencing and events sector.

Belfast's stated aim is to deliver 50,000 conference delegate days each year by 2021 across the city, which will generate £100 million in economic impact and sustain 1,500 jobs.

The change to ICC Belfast coincides with the first day of the International Healthy Cities Conference, which will bring 3,000 delegates to the venue in a four-day conference which will generate close to £2 million for the city.

Catherine Toolan, managing director of ICC Belfast, said: “The repositioning is a crucial step on the journey to realising the full potential of our fantastic venue.

"We have the facilities, infrastructure, team and city-wide support to deliver major international conferences in Belfast.

“A comprehensive research process identified the need to specifically tailor our product to the wider UK and international conference market.

"The repositioning has been the catalyst for a significant body of work, and behind it we have a robust digital strategy that dials up our focus on selling ICC Belfast in an incredibly competitive international market.”

Belfast Waterfront Hall first opened in 1997 in a £32 million development by the Laganside Corporation.

The change to ICC has been delivered in conjunction with Visit Belfast, Tourism NI and Belfast City Council.

Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon said: “Belfast is a city on the rise and has received numerous accolades including being voted trendiest European City for Business Travel and Lonely Planet's number one city to visit in 2018.

“The international conference market is incredibly competitive, so standing still is not an option. We have ambitious targets for the next five years and a successful ICC Belfast is central to delivering these."

The change of name to ICC comes as it and its sister venue the Ulster Hall continue their search for a new permanent catering partner.

Amadeus, the catering arm of Birmingham's NEC Group, had its £16 million contract annulled in June, just two years into a five-year cycle, and at present the function is being provided by Hospitality Belfast, a business comprising the expertise of Mount Charles and Yellow Door.

The Europe-wide tender process to find a permanent replacement to Amadeus has not yet been advertised, and that process could take between six and eight months to formalise.

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