Belfast ups ante in new drive for £80m city conference growth: #ItsTime @newbelfast @NITouristBoard @belfastcc @TourismIreland1


Visit Belfast’s three-year plan to secure £80 million from the fast-growing conference and events sector by 2014 is firmly on track, with the support of a brand new public/private sector marketing campaign to promote the city’s world class credentials, it was announced on Tuesday 26 November 2013.

In a new business tourism campaign, industry leaders Hastings Hotel Group, Hilton Northern Ireland, Flybe, Belfast Waterfront and Assembly Buildings, have joined forces with Visit Belfast, Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to target conference organisers as part of a major push to showcase the city’s growing conference capabilities and expertise.

Developed by Visit Belfast, the campaign captures the city’s unique sense of humour to grab the attention of global conference organisers, challenge perceptions and position Belfast as an exciting events destination on the rise. It will use creative, integrated marketing and PR to influence event organisers that ‘It’s Time to Visit Belfast’ for their next conference or meeting.

The campaign aims to capitalise on the significant and planned investment in the tourism infrastructure here and supports the sustained sales and marketing efforts by Visit Belfast to drive conference wins for the city.

In the financial year end-March 2013, Visit Belfast’s business tourism team had booked in more than £27 million worth of new, inbound meetings and conference events for the city, up 70% on the year before. The team is now targeting a combined total of £80 million worth of business booked for the three years to end-March 2014.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said that the city now outperforms its rivals in terms of quality and affordability and welcomed the campaign which aims to put Belfast firmly on the map as a leading international conference destination.

“Belfast is an inspiring, vibrant, welcoming city which offers a delegate experience that is second to none. We are now home to leading hotels, attractions and conference facilities which rival the best in the world but we need to ensure that organisers are aware of what Belfast has to offer,” he said.

With plans progressing well towards the development of a new, state-of-the-art £30 million extension to the award-winning facilities at the Belfast Waterfront –– it’s time to up the ante.”

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, said:

“The economic benefits of hosting conferences and business events in the city extend right across the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors. They deliver a welcome boost to the midweek economy here and are an important part of our growing tourism industry in Belfast.”

“Visit Belfast has continually invested in the promotion of Belfast as a vibrant business tourism destination and we are now competing and winning business on a global scale.This industry led partner campaign is a forward-thinking and joined-up approach to help secure even more conference and meetings business for the city.”

David Boyce, Tourism Ireland’s head of business tourism GB, said:

“Tourism Ireland is delighted to support this initiative promoting Belfast for business tourism – ensuring more business tourism buyers put Belfast on their ‘wish-list’ for meetings, conferences, association and incentive travel. Belfast is now recognised as a premier business tourism destination and Tourism Ireland will continue to highlight the excellent facilities in Belfast and Northern Ireland, in Great Britain and elsewhere around the world.”

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Tourist Board, added:

“As a strategic partner to Visit Belfast in the promotion of the city as a leading business tourism destination, we are delighted by the progress achieved to date.

“As the gateway city to Northern Ireland, Belfast is capable of staging and hosting major conferences and events and I’m pleased that a coordinated approach in delivering tourism growth continues to deliver such strong results.”

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