Belfast shone as a world-class business destination in the eyes of delegates attending the 67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) held in Belfast Waterfront last week.
Northern Ireland’s capital city welcomed over 1,500 delegates from almost 60 countries to Europe’s largest animal science conference.
Dr Sinclair Mayne, the local Visit Belfast Ambassador and Chair of British Society of Animal Science Organising Committee (BSAS), thanked the city for making this year’s event such a big success: “Throughout the conference, Belfast triumphed in showcasing the city’s riches: our delicious cuisine, stunning landscapes, exceptional entertainment facilities and of course legendary hospitality. EAAP is hosted in major European cities such as Nantes, Rome and Warsaw. Belfast is as good as any of these cities…it is a world-class business tourism destination.”
Mike Steele, BSAS Chief Executive applauded Belfast for its incredible support and commented: “It’s a great city with a lot of advantages. Where it shines above the rest is the citywide commitment to help make our event a success and to make everyone feel so welcome. And thanks to the local industry and city’s support, we hosted the largest annual meeting in our 67-year history.”
EAAP 2016 has proven invaluable to the local region. First and foremost, it provided a unique opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland’s livestock sector, and the pioneering local research which plays an important part in the local economy to a European audience, as well as bring in around £2.7m to the city.
This event, the first time EAAP has visited Belfast, was the result of a joint bid from Visit Belfast, Belfast Waterfront, BSAS and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), with the Waterfront’s new state-of-the-art conference facility at the heart of the city’s proposition.
Now with over 30 flexible spaces, the new purpose-built conference centre can cater for up to 15 parallel sessions as well as accommodate over 1,500 delegates with ease. “Having large flexible spaces enabled us to create an environment that was conducive to learning and networking. The main conference halls boasted a mixture of food stations showcasing local products and poster boards to promote networking opportunities, and the outstanding service from the Belfast Waterfront team made our experience all the more enjoyable,” added Mike Steele.
The £29.5m extension which was funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, has enabled the city to secure more international conferences.
Catherine Toolan, Managing Director of Belfast Waterfront explains: “Doubling our event space has enabled us, along with Visit Belfast, to bid for and secure international conferences like EAAP, which have more complex requirements. And in turn hosting such prestigious events raises the city’s profile as a must-visit destination for business travellers as well as generating revenue to enhance our infrastructure and improve our competitiveness. I’m absolutely delighted to learn EAAP 2016 was a historic milestone for the organisers and I look forward to enjoying many more such successes with our team.”
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said “Bringing this conference to Belfast has been a three-year process and Visit Belfast has been pleased to work with EAAP from the initial joint bid with AFBI and BSAS, organising social programmes, right through to the first day of the conference, when our team welcomed delegates to Belfast Waterfront with information for their stay in the city. Many hotels were completely full during the conference, and with social events in pubs and restaurants right across Belfast, we estimate that around £2.7m was generated for the local economy. Not only that – showcasing Belfast to these 1,500 visiting delegates makes them more likely to return as leisure visitors at a later date, bringing even more people into the city.”
Delegates received VIP treatment with organised events held in Belfast’s historic landmarks including the award-winning St. George’s Market, one of Belfast’s oldest attractions and a special drinks reception with the Lord Mayor of Belfast at City Hall.