Best for events as Belfast scores international wins

Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey pictured with Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon, Susie Brown, interim director of corporate development at Tourism NI, and Catherine Toolan, managing director, ICC Belfast
Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey pictured with Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon, Susie Brown, interim director of corporate development at Tourism NI, and Catherine Toolan, managing director, ICC Belfast

Belfast city has won two international awards after being named the Best Events Destination, while the former Waterfront, now ICC Belfast, was named Best Venue at the Conference and Incentive Travel magazine (C&IT) Awards in London late last week.

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, the wins highlight the growing appeal of the city which has scored some significant events in recent years after heavy investment in the business tourism sector.

Demonstrating its strength, 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% increase on the previous 12 months – generating £52 million for the local economy.

“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,” said Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey.

“I am thrilled to see these two significant wins added to Belfast’s growing list of accolades.

“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,” she added.

Visit Belfast CEO Gerry Lennon said the awards were judged by a panel of events industry experts and were “invaluable” in the drive to meet future growth targets.

“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 was recently rebranded ICC Belfast, took home the top prize in the ‘Best Venue’ category.

“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,” said managing director Catherine Toolan.

“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.”

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.

“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.”