Commission says "yes" to London ICC

The independent commission set up by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has announced that an International Convention Centre for London is long overdue. The commission yesterday concluded their findings to establish whether the capital should have an ICC with an unequivocal "yes". Its key conclusions pointed to the fact that the ICC should be constructed within the central tourist district. A definite site has not yet been earmarked, however, and funding would still need to be raised. The Commission's report finds that creating a London ICC would cost some £250-£300m to build, but would boost the UK economy by roughly £400m a year and create at least 5,500 new jobs in London and elsewhere in the country. The research concluded that the new ICC would host over 330 meetings and about 70 major banquets each year and should have a main auditorium capacity of between 3,000 and 5,000 people. As it will not be possible to fund the development entirely from the private sector, the development would need to be a partnership of some sort between public and private sectors. Once built it would not be a drain on public finance. Fully operational, if located in central London, the Commission says it would achieve a significant annual operating profit on the back of mature annual revenues exceeding £30m. Speaking after the board of the London Development Agency, which has funded the commission's study, gave its backing to the report, the chair of the commission, Gerry Acher said: "There is no doubt in the commission's view that an International Convention Centre for London is feasible, justified, necessary and overdue. This is the best opportunity that London has ever had to develop a world-beating International Convention Centre that will restore London to the top of the tree as a destination for major international events - the position it last held in the 1970s - with all the consequent benefits - financial, economic, employment and reputational - that will follow." "In the past, the importance of the business tourism market has not been fully understood and previous projects lacked effective city leadership," he continued. "Following this current study, the public sector has given its endorsement of the findings and the private sector is now expressing serious interest in participating in the development of a future London ICC and I hope this project will be come a reality. "The commission is of the unanimous view that the business case for developing an ICC in central London is clear and unambiguous. The next stages of the work will see the commission being reconstituted to reflect the tasks of finalising the location options and the funding package and engaging the private sector in the project." Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: "As this report makes clear London needs an ICC which would further enhance our role as a global centre for business, bring thousands of new jobs to the capital and provide a lasting stimulus to our economy. An ICC would consolidate London's position as the best European city for business." Gerry Acher added: "We have received very clear feedback from the world's leading professional conference organisers that a venue outside the central tourist area, whilst still attracting the same convention business, would not have anything like the attraction of a venue within the central area. The numbers involved highlight London's true potential. An ICC in London's central tourist district should be able to attract some 325,000 delegate-days each year, giving a similar performance to the Palais de Congres in Paris, which is ten minutes' walk from the Arc de Triomphe. These visitors would be a major boost to London's hotel, restaurant, theatre, shopping and tourism service industries."

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