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Queen’s University Professor secures major international conference for Belfast

Belfast is set to host a major international conference in 2021 after a successful pitch led by Professor Brian Falzon from Queen’s University Belfast.

The conference win was announced in the Chinese city of Xi'an, where Professor Falzon fended off competition from Venice, New Orleans and Lausanne in Switzerland.

Held every two years, the International Conference on Composite Materials (ICCM) is the biggest conference in the field of composites globally, and will bring up to 2,000 international delegates to the city in 2021, generating an estimated £4.1m for the local tourism economy. This will be the first time the conference has been held on the Island of Ireland.

Professor Brian Falzon, Head of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s, commented: "ICCM is the Olympics of conferences in composites research, bringing together a global community of experts in this field, which continues to have huge research and exploitation potential.

"Winning this conference was the result of a tremendous team effort from Queen's University, the Advanced Composites Research Group, Visit Belfast, the Belfast Waterfront and Conference Partners International, with everyone coming together to show that Belfast can successfully host this conference.

"Hosting ICCM will help establish Belfast as a global player and centre of excellence for composites research, and I am looking forward to welcoming colleagues from all over the world to Belfast in 2021."

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, added: "Conference tourism is an extremely important part of Belfast's tourism economy, providing year-round and mid-week business across accommodation providers, restaurants, conference venues and retailers. Last year, for example, we estimate that 74 conferences were hosted in Belfast, contributing around £32.5m to the local economy. Furthermore, research suggests that business visitors are likely to return to a destination as a leisure visitor at a later date, making this an important market for the city's tourism industry.

"Around 79% of these conferences are won with the support of an Ambassador like Professor Falzon through the Visit Belfast Ambassador Programme. This network of over 1,000 local professionals are all experts in fields ranging from agri-food to oncology, and work with Visit Belfast to secure millions of pounds of conference business for the city. We are delighted that this conference will bring more up to 2,000 delegates from all over the world to see and experience Belfast in 2021."

The conference is supported by the Conference Support Fund which is financed through a partnership between Tourism NI and Belfast City Council.