Belfast has been chosen to host Europe’s largest annual gathering of archaeologists, joining Barcelona, Istanbul and Lisbon in a international line-up of cities to bring up to 2,500 delegates together in one place.
The European Association of Archaeology (EAA) will host the major week long event in August 2022, boosting the local economy by £3.8m.
ICC Belfast will host the main four day conference event, supported by other venues across the city including Queen’s University Belfast, before delegates enjoy three further full days of field trips exploring historical sites throughout the island.
The conference was secured by Visit Belfast, Queen’s University Belfast and ICC Belfast, with funding support from Tourism Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.
Much of the conference will take place in ICC Belfast, which, following a £29.5m extension funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the European Regional Development Fund, has been a key catalyst in Belfast’s development and growing success as a conference destination.
Based in Prague, where it was founded in 1994, the EAA has 2,500 members from over 50 countries all over the globe, making it the second largest archaeological association in the world. This year’s conference takes place in Bern, Switzerland, followed by Budapest in Hungary in 2020 and Kiel, Germany, in 2021.
Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development at Visit Belfast, said: “This was a real Team Belfast effort – the city’s bid was a combination of the research undertaken at Queen’s University’s School of Natural and Built Environment, as well as investment in Belfast’s hotels, venues and tourism product which has increased the destination’s appeal internationally and allows us to compete at the highest level.”
This latest conference win comes on the back of a record year for business tourism performance at Visit Belfast.
In 2018-19, Visit Belfast worked with its partners to secure 112 new conference wins for Belfast bringing in over 38,000 delegates and 116,000 hotel bed nights, generating an economic return of around £52m for the city in future years.
Belfast is also increasing its credentials as an international meetings destination, having climbed 50 places in the ICCA World Rankings which have just been released for the 2018 calendar year.
Belfast now ranks 115th in the world for international association conferences and meetings ahead of established international destinations such as the Hague, Abu Dhabi and Dusseldorf.