The newly extended Belfast Waterfront welcomed 150 conference buyers, event planners, and meetings professionals for a preview of the 7,000sqm facility on 28 January.
Industry insiders from the UK and Ireland enjoyed an event programme showcasing the remodelled facility, which will reopen in May 2016.
The refurbishment had a £29.5m investment by Belfast City Council (£11m), the European Development Fund, through the EU Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland (£13.3m), and Tourism Northern Ireland (£5.2m).
A programme of music and dance highlighted the new spaces and possibilities. Guests enjoyed a display of the ‘Best of Belfast’, including a local choir and Irish dancers.
The new Waterfront is expected to attract 55,000 conference delegates per year and bring £100m to Belfast by 2020.
Geoff Fenlon, interim managing director at Belfast Waterfront, said: “The preview proved that we can deliver on our promise and left guests in no doubt that Belfast Waterfront is a leading conference and entertainment venue and has both the capacity and capability of hosting many larger international events.”
Thirty international and national events have been confirmed for the Waterfront over the next three years. They include the BBC Good Food Show (14-16 October 2016), the World Credit Union (17-20 July 2016), and the Royal College of Nursing (May 2018).
The first conference in the refurbished space will be the annual International Surgical Congress of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI). Organisers are expecting to attract 2,000 delegates bringing in £2.2m for Belfast.
Nicholas air, ASGBI chief executive, said: “The new developments at Belfast Waterfront perfectly meet the requirements of our International Surgical Congress, allowing us to stage large-scale plenary symposia as well as intimate ‘meet the expert’ sessions.”