Tightest ever security op as NATO Summit opens in Wales

US President Barack Obama is among 60 world leaders in South Wales for the NATO Summit, amid the biggest security operation the area has ever seen.

The two-day Summit opened at Newport’s Celtic Manor Resort today (4 September) and includes a working dinner at Cardiff Castle in the evening.

Although some locals have complained about road closures and the ‘ring of steel’, the event is clearly advertising the region and bringing in major spend.

The Ministry of Defence announced a £3.5bn contract for 589 new armoured vehicles on the eve of the Summit.

The contract is with General Dynamics in Oakdale, Caerphilly, and secures 1,300 jobs.

More than 150 heads of state and ministers will attend the Summit along with 10,000 support staff and 2,000 journalists.

The cost of the security is being met centrally.

There will be 13km of fencing around Celtic Manor and 15,000 meals served to delegates and the media, as well as 24,000 rooms booked in 80 hotels in Newport, Cardiff and Bristol over two nights.
 
Lynne Richards, Tourism Officer at Newport City Council, is one who is sure the event will have significant economic impact benefits to business tourism in the South-East Wales region.

“As we seek to drive more business tourism and increase the economic impact of such events, it is a real coup to be welcoming world leaders to this part of the country. We have been doing all we can to ensure the region benefits from the event.

“It is a great opportunity to showcase what the region offers to a global audience and we will be working hard with our partners in the run-up to the summit.”
 
In addition to the main summit venue at the Celtic Manor, a number of other formal and informal summit-related events are taking place across South Wales and are expected to secure millions of pounds for the local economy, not just from delegate spend but also the contracts and supply service needed in the area.

Richards added that the security operational side of the Summit was similar to that of the Olympic Games.

“Partnership working with Visit Wales and No 10 event organisers for marketing and communications, and customer service training has been on-going over the past months, as well as liaison with Police and Traffic management for their security and logistical operations,” she told CN.

“We have also been working with the individual venues, taxi operators, restaurants and pubs to give a positive visitor experience and to maximise benefit to local businesses. Schools and the local community have also been involved, and have already benefitted from a NATO Food Festival.”

This year marks the 65th anniversary of NATO and the summit was last held in the UK in 1990.
 
Photo courtesy of NATO
 
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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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