Belfast’s thriving city centre, notoriously friendly hospitality, and venue spaces are just three quick reasons why the city is gaining in popularity within the meetings industry.
If you want a destination where your conference will dominate, Belfast probably isn’t the place for you. However, as a city rich with history, and vibrancy, it has more than enough potential to wow your conference delegates.
And organisers are endorsing its appeal: After some stiff competition from Reykjavik and Valencia, the city took the award for ‘Trendiest city for business travel in Europe’ at the recent MICE and Business Travel conference in Amsterdam.
Commenting on this, Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast, said: “Belfast has been gaining an international reputation as a ‘cool’ city in recent years, being named the happiest city in the UK by Instagram, and receiving accolades from Condé Nast and Lonely Planet. The world is seeing Belfast as a great place to live and visit.”
Although – unless you come from Northern Ireland – a trip to Belfast includes a flight, Belfast is easily accessible from the rest of the UK. London airports such as Stansted, Gatwick, and Luton all fly into either George Best City Airport, or Belfast International Airport.
Ryanair’s decision to open a new base in Belfast International Airport has also been a part of a positive start to 2016 for the city and is not only a new lease of transport to and from Belfast, but has created 750 jobs for locals.
Belfast International Airport managing director, Graham Keddie, says the full range of destinations to be served by Ryanair will be revealed later in the year, but: “the potential to add more than one million additional passengers will have a dramatic effect on Belfast’s business”.
The accommodation stock is flying. The Beannchor Group’s Bullitt hotel is scheduled to open in the second half of 2016.
Located only a stone’s throw away from Belfast’s shopping heaven, Victoria Square, Bullitt will be more than suitable for delegates wishing to mix business with leisure. In addition to its 58 rooms, the hotel hopes to become a social hub for city workers and business travellers, providing an alternative for meetings, and catch-ups.
Belfast is also raising its culinary standards for delegates. Three Belfast restaurants were named on La Liste 2015, the best 1,000 restaurants in the world. Michelin-starred restaurants EIPIC and OX were listed, along with James Street South. The BBC Good Food Show will launch a new show in Belfast 14-16 October. This will present some of the province’s chefs, the region’s best producers of food, drink and artisan products, and state of the art kitchenware and gadgets. Cookery demonstrations from TV’s Paul Hollywood, and local star Paul Rankin will take place in the Waterfront’s 800-seat theatre.
Where unique venue space is concerned Belfast plays on its history and is home to The Titanic Quarter. The centrepiece, Titanic Belfast, is promoted as the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction. It is a £100m interactive attraction with nine galleries, banqueting facilities for up to 750 people, and training space.
Titanic Heritage, meanwhile, is an outdoor space and alongside this lies Belfast’s Urban Sports Park, T13.
A new Belfast is fast emerging with a full suite of services and options for organisers. Contact the bureau for more details: