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Belfast chosen to host major nursing congress

Pictured (l-r) is Willie Lougheed; TNI, Rachael McGuickin; Visit Belfast, Janice Smyth; RCN NI, Brian French; RCN, Fiona Devlin; RCN NI, Barrie McQuillan; Belfast Waterfront.

Royal College of Nursing’s Annual Congress will bring 5,000 delegates to Belfast in 2018

Belfast has been chosen to host the 2018 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Annual Congress, the first time it will be held in the city.
The congress, which will be held over five days in May 2018 is the largest event secured to date for the Belfast Waterfront Conference and Exhibition Centre, which will open its £29.5m extension next year. 

The redevelopment, funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the European Regional Development Fund, through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, will add a further 4,000m² of flexible exhibition and meeting space, doubling the size of the current facilities on offer.

The RCN is the largest union and professional body for the nursing profession in the United Kingdom.  Representing over 420,000 members, including nurses, midwifes, healthcare workers and students, the annual congress is the Association’s flagship debating forum and helps to inform the RCN's policies and work for the coming year.

In addition to the congress which includes the UK’s largest exhibition of nursing products and services, around 100 meetings and social events will take place in a number of venues across the city.  The five day conference is expected to welcome more than 5,000 delegates to Belfast.

Visit Belfast worked in partnership with Belfast Waterfront to secure the event for Belfast.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson said: “Today’s announcement is a real vote of confidence in the world-class facilities being created at Belfast Waterfront. 

“Since opening in 1997, the venue has been instrumental in reshaping our city. Now, in 2015, it is again a catalyst for change, bringing more jobs, visitors and economic opportunities, and showcasing what Belfast can offer. 

“With less than a year to go until opening, our investment is already beginning to bear fruit, and the scale of this booking – the biggest ever for Belfast Waterfront – shows the ripple effect of tourism on our economy, and the positive impact it has on the whole city.”

Brian French, Conference and Events Manager for RCN Events, said: “As the flagship event in the nursing calendar, the RCN’s annual congress plays a crucial role in shaping the RCN agenda and influencing nursing and health policies across the UK. “Having hosted a number of highly successful meetings in Belfast over the years, we’re looking forward to bringing the annual congress to the city - not only to the newly expanded Belfast Waterfront but to a range of venues, hotels, and restaurants across the city. 

“Our experience of working with Visit Belfast, Belfast Waterfront and the wider hospitality sector in the city has been second to none.  The ‘Team Belfast’ ethos of delivering a winning event is the key reason why Belfast was successful.”

Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Tourism, Visit Belfast, said: “Belfast has a strong track record in winning and delivering national and international conferences, but the increased capacity at Belfast Waterfront enables us to attract major, city-wide events like the RCN Congress to Belfast that would have previously been out of reach.

“This is a fantastic win for the city and it further increases our profile as one of the fastest-growing conference cities in the UK and Ireland. We look forward to working with the RCN team and our tourism and hospitality industry to deliver a world-class congress in 2018.”

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