Visit Belfast’s commitment in driving tourism growth in a new and sustainable way has been recognised by Britain’s leading body of conference organisers.
In a major first for the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) and the destination marketing organisation for the Belfast City Region, Visit Belfast came out on top to secure its inaugural Corporate and Social Responsibility award at its annual Excellence Awards 2021 in London.
Visit Belfast won over the judges with the city’s renewed drive towards a more regenerative tourism model, pipping Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre (EICC) and P&J Jive, Aberdeen’s state-of-the-art event complex – two of the UK conference industry’s most progressive sustainability heavyweights – to the title.
Revealing the APBCO 2021 Excellence Award winners at London’s ExCel, the judges commended Visit Belfast for the “extent, commitment, impact and inclusivity” shown in delivering a suite of initiatives that put sustainability first and how the city had adapted and reimagined its approach to tourism in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Within the year, Visit Belfast worked in partnership with Belfast City Council to develop the city’s first sustainable tourism and impact plan, launched the largest ever Green Tourism partnership with a city to support businesses on the road to sustainability and established a new events framework to help event organisers deliver more sustainable events in Belfast.
Visit Belfast chief executive, Gerry Lennon, said:
“Belfast’s resilience and dynamism is clear as the city continues to innovate at a local, national and international level and I’m delighted that our commitment and collective actions have been duly recognised at the highest level within the business events sector.
“Tourism has been a catalyst for regeneration in Belfast, supporting thousands of jobs and livelihoods, and we are working hard to ensure that as we rebuild the city’s tourism economy in an inclusive and sustainable way, the sector continues to deliver positive outcomes for not only our tourism and hospitality businesses, but our residents, communities and visitors for many years to come.”
Earlier this year, Belfast was ranked as one of the world’s Top 20 sustainable destinations across 73 cities in the 2021 Global Destinations Sustainability Index. The GDS-Index is the world’s largest sustainability performance improvement and benchmarking programme for destinations.
Setting a lead within its own operations this year, Visit Belfast became a certified organisation with a Green Tourism standard, rolling out sustainability training to all staff and Board members, creating a new sustainability and impact role within the company, establishing a Visit Belfast sustainability team and developing sustainability blogs, toolkits and practical support to help local event organisers and delegates make more sustainable choices.
Visit Belfast is also developing a network of local CSR partners and projects to support conferences and events held in the city. Next year, around one third of all conferences in Belfast will have a sustainability plan – a figure it is targeting will grow to 80 percent by 2025.
Visit Belfast Corporate Partner, ICC Belfast also achieved success at the ABPCO annual Excellence Awards event, securing an Innovation award for its work on ‘The Virtual Delegate’ LinkedIn live series in conjunction with David Meade which successfully demonstrated how organisations can maximise virtual, hybrid and in-person events to engage people and clients.
Meetings industry leaders joined David in helping to lead the sector affect transformational change.