Visit Belfast recently announced its Belfast Ambassador Award winners for 2019 recognising the efforts of Belfast’s academic, medical and business leaders who helped secure major conference and event wins for the city during 2018/19 in an awards ceremony held at Queen’s University Belfast.
Ten 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 2018/19 secured by Visit Belfast and its Ambassador network were estimated to be worth over £29m 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. This year’s awards were proudly sponsored by ICC Belfast.
Professor Eileen Murphy, School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast, was named Belfast Ambassador of the Year for her part in the successful bid to host the The European Association of Archaeology 2022 in Belfast. Visit Belfast worked with Professor Murphy to successfully bid for Europe’s largest annual gathering of archaeologists, joining Barcelona, Istanbul and Lisbon in a strong international line-up of cities to bring up to 2,500 delegates together in one place,
Other winners on the night included Professor Tunde Peto from Queen’s University who secured the Institute of Medical Illustrators 2019, World Site Day and Pan-Ireland Ophthalmology Day 2019 in Belfast, Dr Deborah Cox from AFBI for the International Conference of Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) 2021 which will attract 800 delegates for 5 days, worth £1.5m to the local economy, Amanda Beattie from the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers who was instrumental in hosting British Association of Social Workers Annual Conference 2019 and finally Professor Hugh McKenna & Professor Peter McBride from Ulster University and NI Association of Mental Health who brought the European Conference on Mental Health 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 1,300 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 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.
Professor David Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen’s University Belfast commented:
I am delighted that academics from Queen’s University Belfast are being recognised for bringing many international visitors to the University and to the city of Belfast. I congratulate all of the Ambassadors being recognised for their hard work and look forward to seeing many more international conferences and events being held here.