Northern Ireland has hosted some of the most influential professional conference organisers on the planet - as the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) Council congregated in Belfast between 26 – 29 May.
The international panel met with representatives from Tourism Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Visit Belfast, Visit Derry and ICC Belfast as well as industry professionals and key political stakeholders.
Securing conferencing and business events is deemed a critical driver in the region’s economic recovery post-Covid.
According to Tourism Northern Ireland’s recently launched Integrated Strategy for Business Events in Northern Ireland, it is estimated that the sector could deliver £209 million in direct economic impact, and up to 2000 new jobs by 2030.
The busy programme of events, of which Tourism Northern Ireland was the Corporate Sponsor, saw IAPCO Council members sampling local hospitality and attractions including Titanic Belfast, a tour of the Cathedral Quarter and events at both ICC Belfast and the Grand Central Hotel.
Martin Boyle, Chief Executive of IAPCO commented: “The economic impact and social legacy that results from people gathering for business and professional events can never be underestimated.
It’s important for IAPCO and our members that we all work in close collaboration with destination stakeholders to ensure this remains a fundamental driver in the years to come.
“All of our attending Council members are delighted to have touched down in Belfast to connect with one another and share their experiences and insights. We are looking forward to connecting to local event partners and to further understand the city’s capabilities for future events. We very much appreciate the opportunity to explore Belfast and would like to thank Team Northern Ireland for co-ordinating the visit.”
In 2019, IAPCO members delivered 21,423 meetings and events worldwide with an economic impact of €13.8 billion. Even through the pandemic in 2020, IAPCO members still delivered 13,300 meetings and events.
ICC Belfast hosted a business breakfast on Friday to showcase the venue as Belfast’s only purpose-built conference centre. Ellvena Graham, Chairman of ICC Belfast, said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome the IAPCO Council to Belfast and to showcase our fantastic venue and citywide offering to our guests."
We recognise that business events are crucial to Northern Ireland’s economic development, and we look forward to collaborating with our partners, and organisations such as IAPCO to achieve the goals set out in the Integrated Strategy for Business Events.
The Integrated Strategy for Business Events in Northern Ireland, launched by Tourism Northern Ireland in March this year, is seeking to double the number of international conferences hosted annually and attract three times the number of delegates from the UK and Ireland by 2030.
Following their departure on Sunday 29 May, the Council members will travel to IMEX Frankfurt, one of the largest trade events in the business events calendar attended by over 5,100 global decision makers with qualified buying power.