It really seems to be a no-brainer. Galway is being left behind in attracting convention and conference business to the west, because of the lack of a funded convention bureau in the city.
For the past five years, a group of businesses in Galway have been working together with Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport Knock to attract international conferences and incentives to the region. They have worked on a voluntary basis with minimal funding in the form of membership and support from Failte Ireland.
What started as ‘Galway for International Business Tourism’ quickly transitioned into ‘Meet in Galway’ and they have been extremely successful in promoting the city and county to overseas conference organisers.
And they have been successful — illustrating just how many more events could be lured west if they had the backing of the local authority.
In 2016, Galway hosted €3 million worth of international conferences, convention and corporate meetings. Galway City Councillors heard recently that the setting up of a dedicated and independently staffed convention bureau in Galway could increase this by at least threefold – potentially delivering an economic benefit of €10 million each year.
Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Belfast and Kerry all have official Convention Bureaus targeting business overseas and are bringing it home to their regions. Galway is lagging behind. In 2015, conferences and events delivered €10.2 million to the Cork economy with over €11 million in 2016. Rose Finn of Meet in Galway advised the City Council meeting that Failte Ireland have shown this business to deliver a higher spend per person than traditional leisure tourism. It currently averages at €1,400 per person which is three times the spend of a regular tourist in Galway.
Conferences and corporate incentives traditionally travel at off-peak times of the year driving numbers in the shoulder months of October through to April. This benefits all businesses from coach companies, taxis, shops and local attractions to hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bars. It secures local jobs in the quieter months and benefits the larger business community.
To have been awarded UNESCO City of Film, European Capital of Culture and European Region of Gastronomy is excellent recognition for Galway and a true testament to the passion and hard work of those involved. A Convention Bureau in Galway would build on this success by targeting film, culture and food related conferences and events to further drive revenue to local businesses. The benefits of business tourism are clear; throughout Ireland, conferences and corporate incentives generate a total of €579 million each year as well as securing 19,000 jobs.
Meet in Galway’s main aim is to attract international business people to Galway and the independent Conference Bureau would act as a one-stop-shop for event organisers, uniting local hotels, venues and service providers, and offering a venue finding service, financial support and expert local knowledge to organisers.
Funding is crucial to ensure the future promotion of Galway as a conference destination. Each of the other Irish regional convention bureaus are supported by their City and County Councils and Darragh O’Connor, Chairperson of Meet in Galway is calling on Galway city councillors to financially support the creation of a Galway Convention Bureau so that the region is in a position to capture more of this lucrative revenue generating business.
To find out more about Meet in Galway or enquire about the supports available for bringing a conference to the region, please email [email protected] .