For the first time NewcastleGateshead has entered the UK top 10, and European top 100 for hosting international conferences and events. Adrian Evans, senior business tourism manager at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, examines what this means for the destination.
Earlier this month I was delighted at the news that NewcastleGateshead had seen a sharp rise in its status as an international destination for conferences and events.
For the first time, NewcastleGateshead polled at number 10 amongst UK destinations – above Liverpool, York and Leeds and jumped a massive 66 places to 93rd in Europe.
The poll, which is compiled by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), looks at global destinations covering 86 countries and ranks them according to the number of regular international events with more than 50 delegates held throughout the course of the year.
The results are encouraging. In our task to attract large scale national and international meetings and events, the Convention Bureau is working with our colleagues at Gateshead Council and The Sage Gateshead in driving forward plans for a proposed International Conference and Exhibition Centre (ICEC) on Gateshead Quays, and there has been a huge amount of support from the meetings and events industry who are keen to see the development happen.
We deal with a range of professional conference organisers from across the country and throughout Europe, and many work with international clients who would love to bring their next big event to the North East.
Until now they have been unable to do so until a purpose built facility with sufficient flat-floor exhibition space is in place.
And yet, we are still over achieving and competing with destinations like Liverpool, who are already home to such facilities.
The positivity surrounding the project is very much a step in the right direction.
Between now and September, venues across NewcastleGateshead will host 1,150 international delegates and prestigious academics at four conferences contributing in the region of £1.2m to the local economy.
One of these events is the World Congress of Accounting Historians, which takes place in July at Newcastle University, and was secured with the support of the Convention Bureau as part of our successful Ambassador Programme.
The event last took place in Istanbul, and was confirmed in 2008 for NewcastleGateshead by the team at Newcastle University Business School and will bring 300 delegates to the destination over three days.
At the Convention Bureau we have identified the association conference market as the one with the greatest potential to create increased economic impact within the region’s business tourism economy.
As such, NewcastleGateshead Conference Ambassador Programme began in 2002 and has built up a network of more than 800 participants featuring academics from Newcastle and Northumbria universities, the city’s leading medical and scientific experts, and a host of professionals working in a range of sectors.
In the last decade it has been instrumental in securing some the world’s most high-profile association events for the destination, including the International Society for Priorities in Healthcare which took place in 2008 at The Sage Gateshead, where the European Academy for Childhood Disability will also take place in 2013.
Combining Convention Bureau industry knowledge and the subject expertise of a Conference Ambassador is without doubt our best chance of success in ensuring a high quality, focused event bidding process, and to continue our success in attracting large-scale international events for the destination.