BACD reports £10bn UK business tourism drive

More than £10 billion is to be invested in the UK’s conference and business tourism facilities over the next two years, according to the British Association of Conference Destinations (BACD). Research was carried out among the BACD’s members via telephone interviews on behalf of the Business Tourism Partnership (BTP). Among the findings, it was revealed that up to £3 billion is to be invested in Birmingham, £1 billion in Newcastle Gateshead, £400m in Belfast, £100m in Leeds and £52m in Leicester. "These developments show the long-term planning of UK cities and the resilience the business tourism industry has shown in these difficult times," said BACD executive director Tony Rogers. "The incentives market, which is dependent on long-haul business, has suffered but generally the UK is buoyant. "There have been a lot of negative impacts on our business tourism over the last year but our research shows there is now considerable optimism and high levels of activity." Rogers added that despite the events of 2001, business enquiries to the BACD’s venue-locating service were up 50% on the 2000 figure, and the beginning of 2002 saw a continued demand for meetings space. Major projects outlined in the research include the £18m redevelopment of the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, due for completion in September. It will add conference space for up to 2,000 delegates. A £7m redevelopment of the Telford International Centre will see the first phase open in April, providing conference facilities for up to 1,300. In Newcastle Gateshead, activity includes a new Music Centre with tiered auditorium seating for 1,650, opening in 2003, and also a five-star Hilton Hotel opening the same year. BTP chairman Michael Hirst said: "This level of new investment in facilities shows confidence in the growth of business tourism is strong and it remains the most lucrative and fastest-growing sector of all tourism. "Also, business delegates can be encouraged to spend more on leisure activities while attending conferences," he added

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