The 2018 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Annual Congress
Ronan McLaughlin, General Manager, Harp Bar, Joel Neill, Operations Director, Hospitality Ulster, Janice Gault, NI Hotels Federation, Chief Executive and Glyn Roberts, Retail NI, Chief Executive.

Belfast’s hospitality, retail and hotel sectors have come together to extend a joint welcome to the 5,000 delegates from the Royal College of Nursing who will be attending their annual congress at Belfast Waterfront, starting this Saturday.

The 2018 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Annual Congress which will take place between 12-16 May, will be the largest conference held in the international conference centre to date and, in a bid to make sure everyone has a positive and enjoyable Belfast experience, hotels, restaurants, bars and shops will be using the conference’s official hashtag to attract the nurses during their five day stay.

Using the #RCN18, Belfast businesses are encouraged to promote their offerings to the nurses – who won the Freedom of the City back in 2016.

Joel Neill, Operations Director, Hospitality Ulster said:  “The impact of the RCN Congress on the local economy has been estimated at £4.8m over the duration of the conference.  This is a great opportunity for local hospitality businesses to attract the delegates with their wide range of offerings, as well as giving them a big Belfast welcome.”

Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI added: “Having 5,000 delegates stay in our city is a significant win for Belfast and the boost to the local economy is welcomed amongst our members.  We’re delighted to play a part in welcoming the Congress and we hope that attendees enjoy the vibrancy that Belfast has to offer as well as the terrific range of retail outlets, hotels, bars and restaurants in our city.”

Janice Gault, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) also advised:  “The NIHF is delighted to welcome RCN Congress to Belfast. This is a real success story for the city and shows what we can do when we all work in partnership.  We look forward to having the opportunity to give the delegates a great experience during their stay in the city.

“The NIHF and its members are committed to developing the city as a conference destination and feel that success for Belfast Waterfront is intrinsically linked to hotel performance. The hotel sector will have invested £500m in new product, extensions and refurbishments by the end of 2019 much of it in Belfast. Growing the conference market and attracting significant associations like the RCN is a key factor in ensuring the hotel sector reaches its potential.”

The RCN is the largest union and professional body for the nursing profession in the United Kingdom.  Representing over 420,000 members, including nurses, midwives, healthcare workers and students, the Annual Congress is the Association’s flagship debating forum and helps to inform the RCN’s policies and work for the coming year.  As the UK’s largest exhibition of nursing products and services, the Congress will include over 100 events across the five days.

Belfast Waterfront and Visit Belfast, the tourism marketing agency for Belfast, jointly submitted the successful bid to host the conference. The bid was further supported by Tourism NI, the public body responsible for growing tourism throughout the province and the aim of these collaborative efforts is to position Belfast as a world-class destination for conferences and events.

Visit Belfast and Tourism NI provide the Belfast Waterfront with a wide range of industry support, which has been integral in securing the RCN Congress. The city is in a better position than ever before to host a conference of this scale, following the £29.5m extension to Belfast Waterfront, unveiled in 2016.  The redevelopment was funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the European Regional Development Fund.

Catherine Toolan, Managing Director of Belfast Waterfront, said the support from Belfast’s hospitality, retail and hotel sectors demonstrated Belfast’s unique attitude as a city:

“RCN Congress is the premier event in the nursing calendar and we’re delighted that Belfast Waterfront is the host venue for 2018.   We have the venue, infrastructure and scale to host events of this nature – but what really sets Belfast apart is the vibrancy and energy of the people and businesses of this great city, and that’s being demonstrated already by this warm gesture from our partners in the hospitality, retail and hotel sectors.

“I know that our wonderful variety of shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and cafes will welcome delegates with open arms.  This conference alone will have an economic impact on the city of nearly £5m, illustrating that when Belfast Waterfront wins, everyone wins.”

For more information and a full agenda of the RCN congress visit

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