7th MAY 2020 - Page 14

Business INsight
Latest international conferences
add to growing tourist economy
Gary McDonald
Business Editor
international conference
with confirmation of two more
lucrative events coming to the city
for the first time this spring and
Between them they will welcome
350-plus delegates, offer the equivalent of more than 2,000 bed nights,
and pump hundreds of thousands of
pounds into the city’s coffers.
In May, accountancy and advisory
firm Baker Tilly Mooney Moore will
host its EMEA (Europe, Middle East
and Africa) regional conference in
the city for the first time since the
inception of the event 30 years ago.
Then in July/August, the sought-after 2019 Conference and Incentive
Travel (C&IT) Agency Forum, which
has been held in London every year
bar one, is coming to Belfast.
Both conferences will make a significant contribution to the city’s
growing tourism economy, and will
have spin-offs across the regions of
the north
Since its first summit in 1988, Baker Tilly International has evolved
n WINNING FORMULA: Announcing Belfast as the official destination for the 2019
Conference and Incentive Travel (C&IT) Agency Forum are, from left, Oonagh O’Reilly
from ICC Belfast, Laura Cowan from Titanic Belfast, Rachael McGuickin from Visit
Belfast, Catriona Lavery from Hastings Hotels and Eimear Callaghan from
Tourism NI
into a $3.6 billion organisation with
a workforce of 35,000 colleagues in
746 offices.
Belfast will host delegates for the
five-day conference based at the Eu-
ropa Hotel, but with gala events at
various other venues including Belfast City Hall and Titanic Belfast.
The conference will attract 250
delegates from around the world to
take part in a programme of technical sessions, collaborative meetings,
thought leadership and motivational
Baker Tilly International chief executive Ted Verkade said: “This conference represents the beginning of
a dynamic next chapter for our network, as members from around the
world gather in Northern Ireland to
collaborate and share expertise.”
Murray Watt, regional director for
EMEA, added: “Belfast is the perfect
choice as a vibrant, fast growing
economy that reflects our own focus
on growth.
“A key element of our conferences is relationship building. The
warm-welcome and personal approach I have experienced from our
colleagues in Belfast will provide the
perfect backdrop to foster closer relationships.”
The four-day C&IT forum, which
will bring more than 100 of the UK’s
leading and most active event planners and suppliers to Belfast, was
successfully secured in partnership
with Visit Belfast, Tourism NI, Belfast ICC, Titanic Belfast and Hastings
C&IT is the UK’s leading influential
brand for the meetings, incentives,
conferences, and events industry
and provides a key source of information, news, collaboration and net-
working opportunities through its
expansive and unrivalled portfolio
of print and digital outlets.
Belfast secured the conference
highlight following a recent site visit
to the city by senior C&IT officials
who chose Belfast over other UK rivals for its hospitality and welcome,
state-of-the-art venues, award-winning attractions and unrivalled entertainment.
Rachael McGuickin, director of
business development at Visit Belfast, said: “These two events are major coups for Belfast, and a key part
in the drive to bring in even more
business tourism opportunities in
the years ahead.
“The C&IT forums are attended by
many highly influential global event
organisers who between them control a combined annual spend on
events worth £450m.
“The decision by C&IT, the industry leaders, to base themselves here
for these pivotal events represents
a real vote of confidence in our city.
“Belfast is now competing at the
highest international level. Only a
few months after being officially
recognised as the best events destination, the decision to bring these
events here is potentially transformative for a city that is focused
and committed to business tourism
Flybe investor moves to eject
chairman over airline sale
TRUGGLING airline Flybe
has confirmed that its
biggest shareholder,
Hosking Partners, has moved
to eject chairman Simon
Laffin and ordered a probe
into its takeover.
The airline said yesterday
that the investor has requested the company convene a
general meeting to consider
resolutions to replace Mr
Laffin with Eric Kohn.
Flybe – which is being taken
over by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment
firm Cyrus Capital Partners –
said in a stock market update
that Hosking also wants Mr
Kohn to investigate the sale
Hosking objects to the deal,
which will see Flybe sold for
1p a share. Shares in Flybe
jumped over 31 per cent in
morning trade to 4.5p.
But the airline said it has “full
confidence” in Mr Laffin and
believes that “any independent scrutiny of its conduct
will support the board’s
It said: “The board reaffirms
that it has acted at all times
in the interests of its shareholders and all its stakeholders, through an extremely
difficult and challenging
“The board continues to
have full confidence in its
chairman, Simon Laffin, and
believes that any independent scrutiny of its conduct
n TAKEOVER: Flybe’s biggest shareholder Hosking Partners has
moved to eject chairman Simon Laffin
will support the board’s
Under the terms of the deal,
the buyers – known collectively as the Connect Airways
consortium – will pay £2.8m
to take control of the main
trading company Flybe and
the online arm Flybe.com
in a deal set to complete
by February 22, while later
concluding the purchase of
the wider holding company
for 1p a share.
However, Hosking has expressed concerns that Flybe
allowed a false market to de-
velop by failing to notify the
City of its financial position
quickly enough.
Flybe confirmed on Thursday
that shareholders will not
be able to vote on the initial
disposal of the main trading
assets of the airline, but only
the 1p-a-share sale of the
remaining holding company.
Under the takeover plans, the
airline will be combined with
Stobart Air in a joint venture.
Cyrus will own 40 per cent
of the new company, while
Virgin and Stobart will take
30 per cent apiece.


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