The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO) says its members are recording business activity levels up to 65% of that seen pre-pandemic, as we enter Q2 of 2022. The group announced the figure as members gathered for their tenth annual Business Tourism Conference at Carton House in County Kildare today (Friday, April 8th).
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, opened the event where 180 delegates from businesses across the country had gathered to discuss issues affecting the industry under the main theme of Re-Evolution: Reimagine, Reconnect and Revitalise.
Addressing delegates Minister Martin said: “The theme of this conference, re-evolution and a focus on future strategies for the sector, is very much aligned with current Government thinking in relation to tourism policy, in that we must strive to regrow and reshape our tourism ecosystem in a smarter, more resilient and more sustainable way. We are very much looking forward to welcoming back business delegates and I understand there is a lot of interest in Ireland as a host destination. With our infrastructure, key economic drivers, destination appeal and accessibility, there’s no better place to meet and do business. Business tourism is a highly specialised and high-yielding sector – generating almost three times more revenue than leisure tourists.”
AIPCO members had been delivering over 175 conferences a year, attracting more than 45,000 delegates and contributing €54 million towards the overall business tourism value of €750 million to the Irish economy up to early 2020. Since then, the group has advocated for government support as members worked to withstand the economic shock of the pandemic.
Chairperson of AIPCO Colette Duggan paid tribute to the organisation’s members: “Resilience is a core attribute of our members and teams. We know we’ve had some incredibly dark days. However I’m delighted to say that as we enter the second quarter of this year, our members are on average reporting business to be back to 65% of that seen in 2019. The hope is that we will be back to 2019 figures in full by 2024. I’d like to thank Minister Martin for joining us today – she and her Department have provided valuable support over the past two years and it’s a great opportunity for her to witness first hand the exciting plans and the determination we have to get our sector off the ground, generating more business for our members and revenue for the Irish economy as a whole. We are also part of a global industry and play a vital role in bringing international thought leaders to Irish events where they can see what we have to offer.
Fáilte Ireland has been another wonderful organisation to have on our side throughout this experience. It has provided invaluable advice, support and a listening ear when each was needed. No doubt there are businesses in our sector now who wouldn’t have made it to this point without the help of Fáilte Ireland”.
Colette also highlighted the efforts the members of AIPCO are making to secure the sector’s pipeline of talent for the future: “We are actively reaching out to third level institutions and their heads of business and event management studies to ensure we effectively attract new talent into business tourism and retain them for many years to come”.
Expert speakers at today’s event include Paul Mockler, Head of Commercial Development, Fáilte Ireland, Oscar Cerezales, Chief Strategy Officer, MCI Group and Ben Goedegebuure, Enterprise Vice President, Global and Industry Presence, Maritz Global Events