Belfast Waterfront counts down to first conference
Around 2,000 specialists will travel to Belfast on 11-13 May 2016 for one of the world’s largest medical conventions – the annual International Surgical Congress of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI).
It will be the first major conference held at the new look Belfast Waterfront.
‘Belfast Surgical Week’ is expected to bring in around £2.2 million for the local economy, through hotel bed nights, transportation and other visitor spend.
The ASGBI congress – the largest gathering of surgical specialists in the world, outside of the USA – brings to 25 the number of international and national events already confirmed for the state of the art conference and exhibition facility over the next three years.
Together, the bookings – which include the World Credit Union (17-20 July 2016), the European Federation of Animal Science (29 August-1 September 2016) and the Royal College of Nursing (May 2018) – will bring in a £34 million windfall for the city and showcase Belfast to around 70,000 business travellers from across the globe.
The announcement came as Belfast City Council last night approved the creation of a council-owned company to run the bigger Belfast Waterfront facilities, on completion of its current £29.5 million extension, along with the Ulster Hall.
Councillors decided that an arm’s length body owned by, but independent from, the council would help the Waterfront to successfully compete with other conference facilities, and offered best value for ratepayers in maximising the potential of the venue to bring jobs and other opportunities to the city.
A board of directors will now be appointed, with the company taking over the daily running of the Waterfront and Ulster Hall from April 2016. Both venues will remain in the council’s ownership.
“With less than 250 days to go until opening, it’s clear that our investment in Belfast Waterfront is already beginning to reap rewards,” said Councillor Declan Boyle, Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.
“The value and quality of the bookings secured so far shows that customers are impressed by what’s on offer – a superb location, a warm welcome, plenty of new hotel developments in the pipeline and, of course, Northern Ireland’s only purpose-built conference venue.
“The transformation of Belfast into a world-class conference destination is vital to our economic future, and these revised arrangements will put us on track to delivering that goal, by better equipping our staff with the commercial flexibility needed to establish the Waterfront as the number one choice for business travellers.”