Belfast Waterfront welcomes its largest event to date

Belfast’s status as a rising star in the business tourism market has not gone unnoticed by conference organisers as the city played host to the 2018 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Annual Congress last month from 12 to 16 May.

This is the first time the Annual Congress has come to Belfast and was the largest event held in Belfast Waterfront, the city’s only purpose-built international convention centre, to date.

Belfast is in a position to host a conference of this scale following the £29.5 million extension to Belfast Waterfront, unveiled in 2016. The redevelopment, which was funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, was critical to securing the RCN Congress. This is an exciting time for Belfast as it continues to be recognised as one of Europe’s most accessible, vibrant and flourishing cities, having been awarded Lonely Planet’s Top Place to Visit in 2018, as well as being named the trendiest European City for Business Travel.

The RCN is the largest union and professional body for the nursing profession in the United Kingdom, representing over 420,000 members. The Annual Congress is the Association’s flagship debating forum and helps to inform the RCN’s policies and work for the coming year.

Throughout the five-day conference Belfast Waterfront’s 7,000sqm of flexible event space was dynamically tailored to facilitate a busy schedule of over 100 events. These ranged from an awards ceremony, to debates on health and social care and even ‘laughter yoga’ workshops.

Belfast Waterfront and Visit Belfast, the tourism marketing agency for Belfast, jointly submitted the successful bid to host the conference. The bid was further supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, the public body responsible for growing tourism throughout the province and the aim of these collaborative efforts is to position Belfast as a world-class destination for conferences and events.

During the conference, everyone in Belfast’s hotels, restaurants, bars and shops came together to extend a joint welcome to the 5,000 delegates, many of whom remarked on how friendly the city and its people were. These efforts will not go unnoticed, as the estimated economic impact to Belfast of hosting the RCN Congress is £4.8 million.

Catherine Toolan, Belfast Waterfront Managing Director, spoke following the conference close saying: “Congratulations to everyone who played their part in making the Royal College of Nursing Congress 2018 such a tremendous success. Together, with The City of Belfast and all our partners, we were delighted to welcome you to our beautiful city. The city truly came alive during the conference and the welcome given to delegates was fantastic. The RCN 2018 Congress is a clear illustration of how when Belfast Waterfront wins, everyone wins.”

Toolan continued: “Belfast Waterfront, Tourism Northern Ireland and Visit Belfast are actively engaging national and international markets to sell Belfast as a unique, vibrant and exclusive destination for conferences or events. We’re confident that by hosting high profile, large scale events such as the RCN Congress, we’ll continue to deliver on our collective vision of making Belfast a world leading Business Tourism destination.”

To find out more about hosting your next world-class event in Belfast Waterfront get in touch:


T: +44 (0)28 9033 4400

Twitter: @BelWaterfront 

LinkedIn: Belfast Waterfront

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