Team effort as Belfast digs deep to win major archeology conference

A leading academic helped bring Europe’s largest annual gathering of archeologists to Belfast.

Professor Eileen Murphy, head of Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University, helped secure the European Association of Archaeology’s annual conference in 2022.

A member of the Northern Ireland Ambassador Programme, Murphy worked with the convention bureau at Visit Belfast in bidding for the 2,500-delegate meeting.

The event, organised by the European Association of Archaeology (EAA) has been held in Barcelona, Istanbul and Lisbon, and is expected to generate £3.8m for city coffers.

ICC Belfast will host the four-day conference, supported by other venues across the city, including Queen’s University Belfast, before delegates enjoy three days of field trips.

Professor Murphy said: “Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University is regularly in the Top 100 in the QS World Rankings and the conference will give us an opportunity to showcase our leading research to colleagues from throughout Europe. This will be the greatest concentration of archaeologists the city will have ever experienced, and we are in no doubt they will have a fantastic time savouring the friendly, vibrant atmosphere of Belfast.”

Prague-based EAA has 2,500 members from more than 50 countries, making it the second largest archaeological association in the world. This year’s conference takes place in Bern, Switzerland, followed by Budapest, Hungary, in 2020 and Kiel, Germany, in 2021.

Rachael McGuickin, director of Business Development at Visit Belfast, said: “This was a real Team Belfast effort – the city’s bid was a combination of the world-class research undertaken at Queen’s University’s School of Natural and Built Environment, as well as investment in Belfast’s hotels, venues and tourism product which has increased the destination’s appeal internationally and allows us to compete at the highest level.”

EAA president, Felipe Criado-Boado, added: “EAA is a project that promotes inclusive, collective discourse, communication and professional networking in archaeology and continues to build a strong unified voice for archaeological heritage and research in our culturally and politically diverse Europe, and we are delighted to head to Belfast in 2022 for our annual conference.”

This latest conference win comes on the back of a record year for business tourism performance at Visit Belfast. In 2018-19, Visit Belfast worked with its partners to secure 112 new conference wins for Belfast bringing in over 38,000 delegates and 116,000 hotel bed nights, generating an economic return of around £52 million for the city in future years.



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