In fewer than 240 days, Belfast Waterfront will welcome for the first time the biggest annual meeting of surgeons this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Around 2,000 specialists from across the world will gather for `Belfast Surgical Week` in May 2016, generating an anticipated £2.2m for the local economy.
The Waterfront`s expansion will see the venue`s event space double in size. And this large scale conference provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the centre`s wealth of support services and additional event space. Its impressive 2,000-seat auditorium will host the plenary sessions, whilst 2 new multipurpose halls spanning over 2,500m2 are ideal for exhibition space and the gala dinner.
The programme is funded by Belfast City Council (£11m), Tourism Northern Ireland (£4.1m) and the European Regional Development Fund (£14.5m), under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, and administered by Tourism Northern Ireland.
The decision to bring the ASGBI conference to Northern Ireland`s capital city was made on the organising committees `visit experience`.
Nicholas Gair, ASGBI Chief Executive explains: `We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm of Team Belfast to secure our business. Everyone is fully focused on ensuring the event will be a huge success - leaving no stone unturned.`
Nick adds: `Belfast enjoys many advantages, and its geographic advantage cannot be understated. Having an airport 5mins drive away from a venue, which is now on par with other leading international venues, will greatly benefit our delegates.`
The theme of the 2016 Congress is `Surgery in the Digital Age` and there`s no better place to host such a high tech event than at Belfast Waterfront`s new state-of-the-art venue.
Building on the success of previous events, ASGBI is seeking ever more innovative ways to raise its profile at its forthcoming conference. The venue`s technology capability will be instrumental in achieving maximum reach and the city`s world class attractions will be central to creating an exciting and engaging social programme - perfect for catching up with old friends as well as making new ones.
Not only is it the first conference to be hosted in the new world class facility at Belfast Waterfront but it is the first time, since 1981 that the ASGBI conference (then a much smaller Annual Scientific Meeting) has been to Belfast.
Mr John Moorhead, ASGBI President and Belfast Ambassador, comments: `Belfast in 1981 was a different place. Visit Belfast today, however, and it`s a completely different story. Thanks to investment in its infrastructure, Northern Ireland`s capital city has blossomed into one of the UK`s most exciting business tourism destinations. The city offers a superb purpose built conference centre, world class attractions and wide range of hotels - all within walking distance of each other. And based on our experience to date, I’m confident that the event will be hugely successful.`
Susie McCullough, Director of Marketing and Commercial Development Belfast Waterfront Conference and Exhibition Centre, comments: `2016 is shaping up to be a busy year and we`re absolutely delighted that ASGBI will join us to showcase the newly extended venue offering. Belfast Waterfront has built an international reputation over the last 18 years for its flexibility, second to none service and experience. And we now have even greater flexibility and technology capabilities to meet the ever changing needs of the market place. The partnership between Belfast Waterfront, Visit Belfast and the local Ambassador has been instrumental in bringing this prestigious conference to the city.`
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive, Visit Belfast said: `Securing the largest surgical association conference in GB and Ireland is a key milestone in Belfast`s tourism journey. Not only will the conference bring a welcome boost to our tourism economy in May 2016, it provides an opportunity to showcase the city’s credentials as a vibrant conference destination and the impressive new facilities on offer at the Belfast Waterfront.`
During a recent visit, ASGBI representatives enjoyed a hard hat tour of the new Waterfront facility. During the tour, the group enjoyed the spectacular riverside views as well as seeing at firsthand how the new facility seamlessly integrates with the existing centre.