Belfast’s official tourism marketing agency, Visit Belfast, has launched a brand new marketing campaign designed to rapidly accelerate the volume of inbound business conferences and events taking place in the city.
Emphasising the importance of business tourism to Belfast and Northern Ireland and developed by Visit Belfast with 13 major partners from the city’s thriving tourism industry – Belfast Makes Sense – was officially launched at the start of International Confex 2019 in London today.
Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, International Confex is one of the largest, dedicated exhibitions for the UK meetings, events and exhibitions industry, which is worth at least £40 billion annually to the economy.
Focused on Great Britain and international markets, the digital-led campaign is the largest dedicated business tourism marketing initiative ever undertaken by the city, incorporating a new website, compelling video content, targeted advertising and public relations to support ambitious sales growth.
Uniquely, the year-long campaign will also feature a range of high profile conference and event organisers and new testimonials from previous clients who are championing the city based on their own positive experience.
The campaign was developed through investment and collaboration of many of the city’s leading private and public sector organisations including Tourism Northern Ireland, ICC Belfast, TBL International, Queen’s University Belfast, George Best Belfast City Airport, British Airways and many of the city’s leading accommodation providers – Hastings Hotel Group, Andras Hotel Group, Dalata Hotel Group, Hilton Belfast, Ten Square Hotel and Titanic Hotel.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Deirdre Hargey, said: “Belfast is a modern, warm, welcoming and appealing city committed to ensuring that every visitor need is matched with a choice of quality facilities and an outstanding hospitality provision and I’m excited that this collaborative, industry-led campaign will help in ensuring that our story and our strengths are widely shared.
“Belfast is diverse, dynamic and ambitious with a shared vision of success and this new campaign underlines the opportunity and choice available to our local, national and international guests who are seeking a compelling, connected and easily accessible destination in which to host an important conference or event.”
Directly promoting Belfast’s confident expertise in delivering high quality events, its wide range of modern venues and accommodation, ease of access, value for money and its key sectoral strengths, the campaign will run until early 2020 to ensure the city remains front-of-mind when key booking decisions are made.
Visit Belfast chief executive, Gerry Lennon, said: “Already a premier conference location, Belfast has been named by leading events industry influencer and publisher Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT) as ‘Best Events Destination’ while ICC Belfast is its ‘Best Events Venue’ for 2018-19.
“We’re a strong-performing city and we are ambitious. With a record 100 conferences secured since April and more than 150,000 delegate arrivals in the last five years alone, I’m excited that this collaborative, industry-led campaign will help in ensuring that our story and our strengths are widely shared.”
Last month, Belfast was confirmed as the official destination for the annual 2019 C&IT Agency Forum. Only the second time to be held outside London in its 10-year history, Belfast will now host more than 100 of the UK’s leading event planners and suppliers at this important industry event this summer.
A separate event to take place in the same week – C&IT’s Corporate Forum – will also be held in Belfast for the first time in what is another major coup for the city.
Tourism Northern Ireland chief executive, John McGrillen, said: “As the strategic leader of business tourism in Northern Ireland, Tourism NI is delighted to support our key partner Visit Belfast in the delivery of the ‘Belfast Makes Sense’ campaign. Business tourism, specifically conferences and incentives, is emerging as a key priority for future growth and has a propensity to spread higher spending visitors around Northern Ireland at traditionally quieter times of the year.
“We are fortunate to have a range of unique and unusual venues to accommodate meetings, conferences, events, gala dinners and incentive groups across Northern Ireland, with Belfast in particular fast becoming a destination of choice. This latest campaign is an important step towards reaching our collective aim of making business tourism a £60 million sector annually for our economy.”
Belfast is currently one of the UK and Ireland’s leading destinations for the meetings, incentive, conference and events (MICE) industry.
Since April, more than 100 conferences have been secured for the city, representing an economic impact of around £46 million – and in the last five years alone, the team at Visit Belfast, working with its partners, has successfully attracted over 400 prestigious conferences from all over the world, bringing 150,000 delegates to Belfast and contributing a combined economic benefit of more than £200 million benefit for the local economy.