Visit Belfast announced its Belfast Ambassador Award winners for 2018 on Thursday 25 October, recognising the efforts of Belfast’s academic, medical and business leaders who helped secure major conference and event wins for the city during 2017-2018 in an awards ceremony held at the newly repositioned ICC Belfast.
Fifteen awards were handed out to recognise some of Belfast’s most influential Ambassadors and their efforts in promoting the city as an inspiring place to meet, work, visit and do business. Business tourism wins in 2017/18 secured by Visit Belfast and its Ambassador network were estimated to be worth £45m to the local economy.
The annual Ambassador Awards form part of the Belfast Ambassador Programme which is led by Visit Belfast and supported by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland to enlist the support of local industry leaders who can help bring national and international conferences and events to Belfast.
Professor Brian Falzon, Head of Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was named “Belfast Ambassador of the Year” for his part in the successful bid to host the 23rd International Conference on Composite Materials in Belfast. Visit Belfast worked with Professor Falzon to lead a delegation to the Chinese city of X’ian where Belfast fended off international competition from Venice, New Orleans and Luasanne in Switzerland to secure the prestigious event. This conference will bring up to 2,000 international delegates to Belfast in 2021, generating an estimated £4.1m for the local tourism economy.
Other winners on the night included Constable Andrew George from the Police Service of Northern Ireland for his role in bringing the National Black Police Association Conference to Belfast in October this year, Dr. Katrina Campbell and Professor Chris Elliot from Queen’s University Belfast for bringing the Mycotoxin Forum next year, Dr. Jun Liu from University of Ulster who hosted the Fuzzy Logic and Intelligent Technologies in August this year and Donal Laverty and Anne Fitzpatrick from Baker Tilly Mooney Moore for a successful bid to host their Annual Conference in Belfast in 2019.
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, congratulated all the winners on the evening, saying; “Tonight’s awards celebrate the talent of our city and significant contribution that our 1,200 strong network of Belfast Ambassadors make to the growing tourism economy in the city. Attracting conferences and events to Belfast are not only a welcome boost for our tourism and hospitality industry, they play an important role in developing our knowledge economy; showcase the city as a great place to visit, work, do business and invest.
“Thanks to huge investment in venues like the ICC Belfast, and in our hotel portfolio, the city now has the capacity and infrastructure in place to compete internationally for large scale meetings and events. The world-class infrastructure we now have in Belfast is matched by our world-class academics and business leaders who work as passionate ambassadors to help bring their global networks to Belfast. I offer my congratulations and thanks to all our winners.”
Tourism NI Chief Executive, John McGrillen, said: “Tourism NI is delighted to work in partnership with Visit Belfast to support its Ambassador Programme which is a key part of growing our business tourism economy in Northern Ireland.
“I congratulate all of the winners this evening and support and encourage them to continue the fantastic work they do to in helping us deliver our strategic growth plans around business tourism.” Tourism NI Chief Executive, John McGrillen
The Belfast Ambassador Awards follow last month’s news that Belfast was named the Best Events Destination and the ICC Belfast was named the Best Venue at the Conference and Incentive Travel (C&IT) Awards in London.