Belfast reports rise in conference work

Northern Ireland’s capital is hosting more major conferences than ever before according to the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau (BVCB). The bureau reported a 44% rise in the number of delegates staying overnight for meetings. The dramatic increase from 228,500 visitors in 2002 to 329,000 in 2003 represents almost half of Belfast’s total overnight out-of-state market. It includes business travellers and visitors attending meetings. BVCB attributed the growth to a combination of factors, including the city’s ambassador programme, launched three years ago. It now plans to appoint a dedicated conference ambassador executive to grow membership further. "As many as 70% of the conferences secured by the convention bureau were achieved in conjunction with local ambassadors, but our success is also due to improved access by air," said BVCB director Una Donelly. "We have around 663 flights a week from 22 UK destinations and low-cost carriers are now making it cost-effective for UK delegates to come to Belfast." Scheduled events will include the XVII World Congress of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates in 2006.

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