Northern Ireland puts knowledge at heart of events strategy

Leaders in business and academia will help bring international conferences to Northern Ireland.

A new initiative, the Ambassador Circle, was launched this week to significantly increase the number of international business events hosted in the country to help revive its economy.

It replaces The Belfast Ambassador Programme, established 20 years ago, with a new region-wide scheme between Invest Northern Ireland, Visit Belfast, Tourism NI and Visit Derry.

The new initiative will include five advisory panels focused on: advanced manufacturing, technology, life and health sciences, food and drink and financial, and professional & business services.

Economy minister, Gordon Lyons, said: “Business events and conferences (…) have the ability and power to showcase the amazing, world-leading skills, knowledge and innovation that exist in Northern Ireland, putting the region on the map as an exciting place to visit, do business and invest in.”

John McGrillen, chief executive of Tourism Northern Ireland, added: “International research commissioned by Tourism NI indicates that the number one factor in attracting a conference or a meeting to a destination is the destination’s international reputation for expertise in that sector.

“I am confident that by working closely in collaboration with The Ambassador Circle, and playing to our undoubted strengths in Northern Ireland, we can harness the support of Northern Ireland’s business, education and research talent to attract even more business events to the region, boosting visitor numbers and spend, and supporting the long-term recovery of our tourism industry.

He added: “Following on from the recent announcement of our enhanced conference support, today’s launch is another important milestone and is one of a range of new initiatives we are planning to launch in partnership with our industry and stakeholders over the coming months to rebuild and grow business events. Despite intense competition, our research clearly shows there is much untapped potential for business tourism, with opportunities across Northern Ireland.”

Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI, added: “As well as providing immediate economic benefits, business events provide a high-profile opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as a place to invest and do business. This can lead to legacy benefits such as helping to grow trade, stimulate innovation and attract investment in our key industries. The Ambassador Circle includes five new advisory panels made up of nominated business and academic leaders. They are specifically focused on the key sectors where Northern Ireland has existing and growing strength. Those on the panels will play a central role in identifying business events that could be hosted in Northern Ireland.”

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said around 80 per cent of business events come to Belfast and Northern Ireland through the support of an ambassador.

“The Ambassador Circle marks a new era of collaboration between tourism, economic development, education and research which will be a game-changer for tourism recovery and development.”


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