Dublin body will push for conference centre

Industry suppliers in Dublin are set to raise the issue of the city’s proposed conference centre at the national elections taking place sometime before June. The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO) has teamed up with other local suppliers to prompt the government to make a decision. The lobbyists will also raise the issue of the development of a convention bureau for the city. “We desperately need a purpose-built convention centre and bureau to promote it,” said AIPCO chairman and managing director of PCO Ovation, Ciaran Hynes. “We’re losing meetings business by delaying the project so we need to act now.” The centre’s proposed site will be the city’s docklands area and plans were drawn up more than five years ago. The centre was due to be part of a massive development in the area, which included two hotels, restaurants, bars and apartments. Planning permission was granted to Spencer Dock Developers for the convention centre but not the whole project. “Permission was granted for a 2,000-seat centre but this is not the seven-storey project that was originally designed,” said Hynes. “We need to lobby the government to invest £100m in the entire project so it will be a proper purpose-built centre.” Hynes is also concerned that the resulting smaller centre will not provide the facilities needed to be a major convention city. “The government has a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, stating that the city should have a conference centre funded by the government, backed by a convention bureau. The bureau should be set up by the government but be funded by industry.” Hynes has already set up a non-profit convention bureau, along with John Power from the Irish Hotel Federation and Frank McGee from Dublin Tourism, but he hopes the government will make it official and recruit a full-time staff.

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