New Ambassador Circle launched to promote Northern Ireland as a leading international business and events destination. 

A new initiative, the Ambassador Circle, was launched today to target and significantly grow the number of international business events hosted in Northern Ireland; and promote Northern Ireland as a leading business and events destination.

The Ambassador Circle will bring together business and academic leaders in advanced manufacturing, technology, life & health sciences, food & drink and financial, professional & business services to help identify, target and attract key business events and conferences to Northern Ireland. It is a joint initiative between Invest Northern Ireland, Visit Belfast, Tourism NI and Visit Derry.

Speaking about the Ambassador Circle, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, said: “My Department’s 10X Economy Vision and the Tourism Recovery Action Plan set out bold ambitions for the economic recovery and future growth of Northern Ireland. International meetings and events play an important part in this.

“Business events and conferences generate mid-week, year-round demand to our venues, hotels and hospitality sector. They also have the unique ability and power to showcase the amazing, world-leading skills, knowledge and innovation that exist in Northern Ireland, putting the region on the map as an exciting place to visit, do business and invest in.

“I therefore welcome the efforts of Invest NI, Visit Belfast, Tourism NI and Visit Derry in establishing The Ambassador Circle to harness the support of the local leaders across business, research and academia to attract more business and conferences to Northern Ireland. “

John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism Northern Ireland added:

“International research commissioned by Tourism NI indicates that the number one factor in attracting a conference or a meeting to a destination, is the destination’s international reputation for expertise in that sector. I am confident that by working closely in collaboration with The Ambassador Circle, and playing to our undoubted strengths in Northern Ireland, we can harness the support of Northern Ireland’s business, education and research talent to attract even more national and international business events to the region, boosting visitor numbers and spend, and supporting the long term recovery of our tourism industry.

Following on from the recent announcement of our enhanced conference support, today’s launch is another important milestone and is one of a range of new initiatives we are planning to launch in partnership with our industry and stakeholders over the coming months to rebuild and grow business events. Despite intense competition, our research clearly shows there is much untapped potential for business tourism, with opportunities across Northern Ireland.”

In supporting the new initiative, Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI added: “As well as providing immediate economic benefits, business events provide a high profile opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as a place to invest and do business. This can lead to legacy benefits such as helping to grow trade, stimulate innovation and attract investment in our key industries.

“The Ambassador Circle includes five new advisory panels made up of nominated business and academic leaders. They are specifically focussed on the key sectors where Northern Ireland has existing and growing strength. Those on the panels will play a central role in identifying business events that could be hosted in Northern Ireland.

“We are delighted to be a key partner in the delivery of this new initiative and I look forward to working with the new ambassadors.”

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added:
“80% of business events come to Belfast and Northern Ireland through the support of an ambassador – a business or academic leader who can help us to attract events to the region within their sector. The original Belfast Ambassador programme was established by Visit Belfast over 20 years ago and has been key to our success in attracting conferences to the city region.

The launch of the Ambassador Circle marks a new era of collaboration between tourism, economic development, education and research which will be a game-changer for tourism recovery and development.”

Pictured at the launch at ICC Belfast are (l-r) Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast, John McGrillen, Tourism Northern Ireland chief executive, Kevin Holland, Invest NI chief executive and Sarah Gribben, Ambassador Circle programme manager.

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