£1m conference support scheme could bring huge hospitality boost

£1m conference support scheme could bring huge hospitality boost
will help give the hospitality sector a major lift.

The Conference Support Scheme was launched in 2010 but with live events now returning as restrictions ease it is taking advantage of a £1million Covid-19 recovery pot to help kickstart the industry.

To qualify, organisers must attract at least 100 delegates from outside Northern Ireland, with up to £100,000 available should a conference attracts 2,000 visitors – which includes those travelling from the Republic and Britain.

Qualifying delegates must also stay a minimum of one night in paid accommodation.

Economy minister Gordon Lyons said. “In 2019, conferences in Northern Ireland delivered £27.5m to the local economy and brought a wide range of benefits including jobs, inward investment and knowledge exchange,

“Northern Ireland had captured the attention of the global travel industry with awards from Lonely Planet to National Geographic, and, following The Open in Portrush, the global conference and events industry was poised to invest.

“This scheme will provide much-needed support for the conference and events sector as it contributes to rebuilding the tourism economy and we very much look forward to welcoming conference delegates back to our vibrant towns and cities.”

‘Long-term impact’

The scheme is funded by Tourism Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Derry and Strabane District Council and delivered by Visit Belfast and Visit Derry.

Rachael McGuickin, Visit Belfast’s director of business development, added: “Visit Belfast, together with our venues, hotels and event suppliers have transformed what we do to meet the new demands of business events.

“We have invested in hybrid, accelerated our work on sustainability and remain committed to working with our association clients to not only deliver safe, sustainable events, but to deliver a long-term positive impact and legacy.”

Odhran Dunne of Visit Derry said: “In 2019, Derry hosted its largest ever conference and the revised Conference Support Scheme will provide a clear and compelling reason to choose the city and build on that legacy.

“The scheme will stimulate demand in the business events sector as we look forward to welcoming both national and international delegates to our historic Walled City in the years ahead.”

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