Photo Credit: Canva/Pexels

Conference organisers are being offered £50 per head for any international delegate they can bring to Northern Ireland after the devolved government announced a new £1million subvention scheme.

Northern Ireland’s Department for Economy wants to secure more business events in Belfast, Derry and the region and is offering awards ranging between £5,000 and £100,000 for all eligible events.

Open to not-for-profit associations and organisations, bringing at least 100 ‘out-of-state’ (outside Northern Ireland) delegates, applications for conferences taking place from 2022-2030 are now open.

The scheme is funded by Tourism Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Derry and Strabane District Council and delivered by Visit Belfast and Visit Derry.

Photo Credit: ICC Belfast/Stephen Henderson

Conferences and exhibitions in were given the okay to resume on 16 August in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “This scheme will provide much-needed support for the conference and events sector as it contributes to rebuilding the tourism economy and we very much look forward to welcoming conference delegates back to our vibrant towns and cities.”

Eimear Callaghan, business solutions manager at Tourism NI, added: “This scheme will be a critical tool in helping to support event organisers plan and deliver in-person conferences within Northern Ireland and support recovery as we open for business. Conferences are crucially important for Northern Ireland, and we look forward to welcoming back delegates to experience all that the region has to offer.”

Rachael McGuickin
, Visit Belfast’s director of business development, added: “Belfast and Northern Ireland is open for business, and we are delighted that this carefully-designed scheme will provide further tangible and practical support for associations and PCOs at a crucial time, when working together and planning ahead is critical for the future of the sector.”

Belfast has been building a long pipeline of business events, with more than 103 significant conferences scheduled through to 2028 which are worth over £81 million to the economy, including the European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies, the Association of Anaesthetics Annual Conference and the One Young World Summit in 2023.

Julia Corkey

ICC Belfast CEO

ICC Belfast CEO, Julia Corkey, said: “In order to win and deliver large-scale, multi-day conferences and exhibitions, our team works as a trusted advisor to clients, inheriting their KPIs as our own. Client requirements have evolved rapidly over the past 18 months and we have made significant investments in our technological offering to become hybrid-by-design. Now that we can safely welcome delegates back to our COVID-Secure venue, this scheme will further enhance our compelling offering and position Belfast and Northern Ireland as a European leading destination for business events.”

Photo Credit: ICC Belfast

Visit Derry CEO Odhran Dunne said: “In 2019, Derry hosted its largest ever conference and the revised Conference Support Scheme will provide a clear and compelling reason to choose the city and build on that legacy. The scheme will stimulate demand in the business events sector as we look forward to welcoming both national and international delegates to our historic Walled City in the years ahead.”

Click here for details of the Belfast and Northern Ireland scheme and here for business events in Derry-Londonderry.