• Cyril McAree

Academics And Industry Leaders Deliver 1,500 International Conferences Worth €766.5m To Irish Econom

Fáilte Ireland has today commended the efforts of its 1,000 strong team of Conference Ambassadors, including leading academics and industry experts, who have collectively brought over 1,500 international conferences worth €766.5m to Irish shores to date.

Through the national tourism body’s ‘Conference Ambassador Programme’, a unique initiative which has been running since 2009 and supports individuals and experts who want to host a conference in Ireland, Fáilte Ireland has also now confirmed a further €130m worth of conferences to take place from 2019-2026.

Over the weekend, Fáilte Ireland honoured 83 of its leading Conference Ambassadors at an award ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral. The recipients - from a variety of backgrounds, including academia, medical science, technology, environment, and culture amongst others - were nominated for an award by the Irish conference and meetings industry.

Hosted by Today FM radio presenters Dermot and Dave, the event acknowledged that these Ambassadors alone had delivered a collective total of almost 68,000 international delegates, worth €105m, to regions across the country between 2015 and 2017.

Over 75 per cent of all international association conferences which come to Ireland do so at the direct invitation of a local Irish member or host, something Fáilte Ireland maximises through its Conference Ambassador Programme.

Speaking ahead of the award ceremony, Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly emphasised:“We know that tourism has had a record year with visitor numbers and revenue at all-time highs. The success of recent years is very much reflected in international business tourism, which last year alone was worth €760m to the Irish economy and supported over 20,000 jobs. Each international conference delegate that comes to Ireland is worth three times as much as the average leisure tourist, and that is why this sector is particularly important to the work that we do in Fáilte Ireland – so much so that we are increasing our investment in this sector by 12%.

“The vast majority of international conferences in Ireland would not have been won without our Conference Ambassadors – and the success they have had since our initiative launched nine years ago has been phenomenal. Therefore, we are recognising them not only for their significant contribution to the local economy but also for the part they have played in building Ireland’s reputation as a compelling and attractive destination to do business. I’m particularly pleased to see such a regional spread of Ambassadors who have brought fantastic conferences to regions outside of Dublin, helping to spur local employment and revenue. This sector is also incredibly important in terms of driving a more seasonal spread of visitors with conferences typically taking place in the shoulder and off-peak seasons.”

Fáilte Ireland’s Meet in Ireland Manager, Ciara Gallagher, added:“Our awards this weekend have showcased the wide-range of talent and expertise we have in our Conference Ambassadors, who have secured excellent conferences in their area of expertise for regions across the country. Winning international conferences is not only lucrative in terms of generating significant revenue for a region, they also leave a lasting legacy with regard to being recognised as a centre of innovation and excellence in their given field. At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking to recruit expert Conference Ambassadors to help bring future business to Ireland. I hope potential recruits feel inspired and motivated by the talented Conference Ambassadors we have on board already.”

Fáilte Ireland’s Conference Ambassador Programme provides impartial assistance and financial support to anyone seeking to bring an international conference to Ireland, from the initial bidding stage all the way through to the marketing and promotion of the event (see more on Fáilte Ireland’s Conference Ambassador Programme in notes to editor).

Professor Geraldine Boylan from Cork was given special recognition on the night for her significant contribution to international conferencing in Ireland, taking home the Conference Ambassador of the Year Award. Geraldine Boylan is a Professor of Neonatal Physiology in the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, University College Cork and Director of the INFANT Research Centre. In 2015, Professor Boylan won her bid to host the 9th International Conference on Brain Monitoring and Neuroprotection in the Newborn in Cork. Having hosted a successful conference, Geraldine won it again for 2017, this time bringing the delegates to her home county of Kerry.

Conference Ambassador of the Year, Professor Geraldine Boylan, said:“Bringing scientific conferences to Ireland is hugely important for showcasing Irish science and innovation internationally. It is also a very strong endorsement of the quality of research and science we do as a country – you need to be credible, excellent and have international standing in your field to attract International Conferences to Ireland as a host. There are many direct and spill-over benefits that arise as a result. International delegates and sponsoring companies get to visit the region often as first time visitors. They also visit local academic centres and businesses as part of the event and develop new relationships for further partnerships, all of which serves to boost scientific standing, bring economic benefit and hopefully show the way for more conference opportunities.

“The support provided by Fáilte Ireland was incredible and instrumental in my decision to bid for a second conference in Ireland. Sincere thanks to Fáilte Ireland for all of their support, along with the Cork Convention Bureau and Science Foundation Ireland. I had certainly not appreciated how much support was available until I hosted the first conference; as a result the second one was much easier. I would encourage anyone thinking of hosting a conference to just take the plunge and contact Fáilte Ireland - they will guide you all the way and it’s a fantastic win for all national stakeholders.”

Each conference delegate that comes to Ireland is worth approximately €1,600, almost three times as much as the average leisure tourist. The international conferences delivered to Ireland in recent years were varied, from across many different disciplines. To illustrate, these included:

Conference of the International Stillbirth Alliance – ISA – 2017 (Cork, worth €627,000) Conference of the European University Association 2016 (Galway, worth €500,000) Animation Ireland’s International Conference 2015 (Kerry, worth €840,000) World Buiatrics Congress -WBC- Buiatrics 2016 (Dublin, worth €3m) 44th International Council for Traditional Music World Conference 2017 (Limerick, worth €970,000) 17th European Congress of Endocrinology- ECE – 2015 (Dublin, worth €4.2m) 24th Congress of the International Pig Veterinary Society -IPVS- 2016 (Dublin, worth €3.5m) Eurospine - Spine Society of Europe Meeting 2017 – (Dublin, worth €4.8m)

For further information on Fáilte Ireland’s Conference Ambassador Programme go to www.meetinireland.com.

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