Business

Belfast lands 'best in the world' accolade for business events

WORLD'S BEST: Celebrating Belfast's accolade from C&IT Magazine is Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon. Included (from left) are Visit Belfast business development directorRachel McGuickin; ICC Belfast sales and marketing director Oonagh O'Reilly; and Tourism NI business solutions manager Eimear Callaghan

BELFAST has been named Best Events Destination at this year's annual Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT) Magazine awards, seizing back a title it had previously held in both 2018 and 2019.

The awards, held in London, recognise the best of the meetings, incentives, conference and events (MICE) industry around the world and are recognised as the most sought-after honours in business tourism.

The award recognises the efforts made by Visit Belfast and the tourism industry in delivering an exceptional experience for delegates at conference and business events.

Belfast deputy lord mayor Alderman Tom Haire said: “Belfast has continued to demonstrate its determination to succeed and shown great resilience to overcome difficulties and positively move forward, ensuring that the city remains an attractive destination for meetings and events.

“I pay tribute to the many tourism and hospitality partners – organisations large and small – who have worked so hard to retain and reinstate Belfast's position as the best in the world for business events. Congratulations to Visit Belfast, ICC Belfast and everyone involved who support this great drive for collaborative success.”

C&IT's expert panel of judges said: “Belfast has always confounded expectations, building a tourism and events enterprise which now captures the attention of the global travel and events industry as a resilient destination that has adjusted and innovated to meet latest market demands.”

Earlier this year, Belfast was confirmed the official host city for the One Young World Summit in 2023, a global forum for around 2,000 young leaders, following a competition of eight candidates from five continents.

Since the start of the pandemic Visit Belfast, in partnership with its venues and accommodation partners, worked hard to safeguard existing event bookings while also targeting new business events for the years ahead.

Since March 2019, it has successfully retained 103 high-value future events and secured 15 new events that will deliver a combined £81 million by 2028, demonstrating the high economic impact and importance of the sector to the city economy.

Visit Belfast's director of business development Rachael McGuickin said the C&IT award will help ensure Belfast remains firmly on the global map for major business events.

“Working closely with our funders and partners, we have an ambitious strategy to lead the business events industry through recovery and growth and this award could not have come at a better time as we ramp up our sales and marketing activity across all markets.

“This prestigious industry acknowledgement is a big advantage for Belfast which could not have achieved without the collective hard work, innovation and support shown by our funder Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland, as well as our hospitality and tourism industry partners.”

ICC Belfast, the city's £30 million purpose-built international convention centre, was highly commended in the ‘Best Venue' category at the same C&IT awards, reflecting its team's dedication to creating innovative solutions for clients that have seen it continue to deliver a range of events that have reached global audiences.

Oonagh O'Reilly, director of sales and marketing?at the venue, said: “Over the past year, our dedicated team have worked hard to create innovative solutions for clients, allowing us to deliver so many incredible events that reached a global audience. It's a massive achievement for the whole team at ICC Belfast, and we look forward to delivering many more world-class events, both in-person and virtually.”

“Despite being faced with unprecedented challenges over the past year, ICC Belfast has continued to deliver immersive experiences and innovative hybrid events, including the launch of One Young World 2023?and a new product suite for STATSports, both of which were held in the purpose-built Hybrid Studio.”

Last week, a £1 million conference support scheme for the tourism industry was unveiled by the Tourism Minister Gordon Lyons as part of the Tourism Recovery Action Plan and is aimed at securing future business events for the north.

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