The Northern Irish city of Belfast will take on hosting duties for Routes Europe 2017. Hosted by Invest NI and Visit Belfast, they will show what the city has to offer as not only host, but as a destination. The official handover ceremony will take place later today (April 26, 2016). The event will be held in Belfast’s Waterfront in April 2017. This venue is Northern Ireland’s only purpose-built conference centre.
The ceremony will see Mr Pawel Galiak, commercial director of Kraków Airport present the Routes Trophy to Ms Suzanne Wylie, chief executive officer of Belfast City Council – thus officially handing over hosting duties to Belfast.
Belfast is the largest and capital city of Northern Ireland, home to two airports which help to make the city one of the most visited weekend destination in Europe. It is steeped in history, with the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes serving as a reminder of the shipyard that built the Titanic.
Combined, George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport welcomed 7,085,501 passengers in 2015. Both are experiencing considerable growth in the early months of this calendar year, and should expect more of the same following the announcement of the Air Route Development Fund. This fund will see up to £4 million being made available over the course of the next three years to support the development of new air routes for Northern Ireland; sure to be a hot topic at next year’s Routes Europe event.
Highlighting the Air Route Development Fund, Northern Ireland’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell said: “I believe Northern Ireland would benefit economically from greater connectivity to a range of un-served short haul destinations within Europe, as well as greater long haul connectivity to Canada and the Middle East.”
In recent years, Belfast has revamped key areas of the city, including the Victoria Square shopping outlet and the venue for Routes Europe 2017, Waterfront Conference Centre. The centre was been transformed thanks to a £30 million extension, and will be opened in summer 2016.
This is the first time the event will be hosted in Northern Ireland, home to less than two million people. The city of Belfast has become a huge tourist destination over the last decade, which is now home to HBO’s Game of Thrones. At the handover ceremony, Belfast will give a glimpse into what the city, and Northern Ireland as a whole, has to offer – ranging from world famous golf courses to a buzzing nightlife, and everything in between.
A lunch will be provided to show delegates some of the traditional Northern Irish cuisine that can be enjoyed at the next event, including wheaten bread and yellow man. In terms of entertainment, traditional Irish dancers will perform on stage.
Speaking to Routesonline yesterday during the air service development forum, Wylie said: “On behalf of my wonderful home city of Belfast, I’m very proud to officially accept hosting responsibility for next year’s Routes Europe Conference,
“Belfast today is full of ambition, optimism and above all energy. A great city, held back for too long, now looking forward and outward. We are renowned for our warmth, our friendliness and our sense of fun, so there is no better place to meet, do business and enjoy the ‘craic’! Team Belfast looks forward to welcoming you next April,” she added.