Belfast will host Routes Europe conference
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has announced that Belfast is to host the prestigious Routes Europe conference in 2017.
Routes Europe is a major international event bringing together decision makers from airlines, airports and tourism authorities to negotiate and build relationships that will shape the world’s future air route networks.
Arlene Foster said: “Hosting Routes Europe in Belfast in 2017 provides us with a rare opportunity to bring influential decision makers into the region and showcase Northern Ireland’s tourism and business potential.
“This conference has the potential to accelerate route development for Belfast and Northern Ireland, with previous hosts of Routes Europe confirming up to six new routes after hosting the event. This will benefit business, tourism and the aerospace sectors.
“The three-day conference will attract more than 1,200 European and international delegates bringing an economic benefit to Belfast worth over £1.3 million. Longer term benefits will come from the extensive international PR coverage for Belfast and Northern Ireland that it will generate, which will enhance our profile as a tourism destination and as a location for hosting large-scale international events.
“The winning bid was prepared by a partnership led by Invest Northern Ireland and Visit Belfast, supported by tourism organisations and our two main airports. It is an excellent example of the power of organisations working together for the good of Northern Ireland.”
Gerard Brown, Head of Future Hosting, Routes UBM EMEA said: “We are delighted to announce that Belfast will be our host city for the 12th Routes Europe in 2017. Delegates will be exposed to the business and tourism opportunities that exist in Northern Ireland and our hosts will have the opportunity to showcase the unprecedented £300m tourism infrastructure investment of recent years to the Routes community.
“To have our audience of over 1,200 of the European aviation industry’s most senior decision makers attend Routes Europe 2017 in Belfast will help to deliver on the ambitious air service targets within Northern Ireland’s economic growth strategy. Belfast has shown that it can deliver on world-class events and the Belfast partners demonstrated a highly unified and aligned approach in their bid to host the event. We look forward to working with them towards Routes Europe 2017 and are confident that our delegates will enjoy the unique and genuinely warm hospitality for which the city is renowned.”
The main conference will take place from Sunday 23 April–Tuesday 25 April 2017 and there will also be a programme of supporting events across the city.
In response to the announcement that Belfast will host Routes 2017, Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director at George Best Belfast City Airport, said:
“For many years, Belfast City Airport has been promoting the city and Northern Ireland as an outstanding destination, not only to airlines but other tourism bodies.
“Routes 2017, will enable us to market the city and region like never before and we look forward to continuing to work with Government to ensure we fully capitalise on the conference.
“Our ambition to grow our European network from Belfast City Airport has witnessed great success recently with KLM beginning services to Amsterdam and Vueling starting flights to Barcelona later this month.
“Routes 2017 will direct the commercial aviation spotlight on Belfast and we will ensure we play our part in making the region shine.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “I am delighted to learn that Belfast has been successful in its bid to host the Routes Europe conference in 2017. Enhanced air connectivity is hugely important to Tourism Ireland in driving additional visitor numbers to Northern Ireland. It is against this backdrop that Tourism Ireland was delighted to play its part in the bidding process to bring the conference to Belfast.
“Working with relevant partners to attract new and additional direct air access services, and continuing to highlight ease of access to Northern Ireland from key markets on existing routes, are major priorities for Tourism Ireland. Northern Ireland will benefit from a +10% increase in capacity on air services for the peak summer 2015 months – including new routes like KLM from Amsterdam and Vueling from Barcelona. We look forward to welcoming our many airline partners from around the world to Belfast in 2017.”