More than 100 of the UK’s top event planners and suppliers have converged in Belfast for the 2019 Conference and Incentive Travel (C&IT) Summit and Agency Forum, the flagship annual gathering for event professionals.
Leading figures at the conference, currently under way at ICC Belfast, represent organisations controlling a combined annual spend of £2.85 billion. The event will also discuss the placing of business worth some £300 million in the meetings, incentive, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector of the tourism industry.
Held outside London only once previously in its 10-year history, the conference was secured by a partnership of Tourism NI, Visit Belfast, ICC Belfast, Titanic Belfast and Hastings Hotels, giving the city a major coup in the business tourism marketplace.
The conference opened on Tuesday with a Corporate Summit, bringing together senior planner and suppliers in a series of panel discussions, meetings and presentations that considered the challenges and issues facing the events industry.
On the evening of day one, delegates and members of Team Belfast made their way to HMS Caroline in the Titanic Quarter for welcome drinks, a tour of the ship and a delicious dinner served in the ship’s galley.
Day two, The Agency Forum, featured a series of keynote speeches, networking activities, content and educational sessions, 1-2-1 meetings and huddle debates. Some of Northern Ireland’s most outstanding tourism offerings, including Game of Thrones®, golf, food, drink and spa experiences are being promoted to delegates in an Experience Zone installed at ICC Belfast for the duration of the conference.
Tourism NI has organised a familiarisation trip for delegates to follow the closing session, showcasing tourism experiences, prospective MICE venues and the tourism opportunities in Northern Ireland for 2019 and beyond.
John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI said: “Business tourism is a key priority for the future growth of tourism in Northern Ireland due to the fact it can deliver higher-spending visitors and shoulder season activity, so the decision by C&IT to choose Belfast for this pivotal event is a real vote of confidence in the city. The delegates are being treated to a world-class welcome and excellent experiences and we are already receiving great feedback about Belfast as a conference destination."
Bringing our flagship event to Belfast has been incredibly exciting for the C&IT team and delegates alike. The event professionals in attendance not only get a chance to network and discuss hot topics in the industry but they also get to experience the destination. The ICC Belfast is also doing a brilliant job of showcasing how it can facilitate events of all sizes, and with its location on the waterfront it also allows delegates to see the beauty of the city
Calum di Lieto, Editor C&IT Magazine
This is a huge opportunity to showcase Belfast and Northern Ireland to some of the UK’s largest and most influential event planners and agencies. During their time in the city, delegates will get to experience Belfast as an events destination, as well as getting out of the city to see the wealth of tourism experiences available across Northern Ireland, and I have no doubt they will be impressed with what they see.
Chief Executive of Visit Belfast Gerry Lennon
Pictured at Titanic Belfast are John McGrillen, Tourism NI, Catherine Toolan, ICC Belfast, Calum Di Lieto, C&IT, Judith Owens, Titanic Belfast, Gerry Lennon, Visit Belfast, and Caitriona Lavery, Hasting Hotels