Ireland faces €200m loss from International Conferences?

The AIPCO represents 10 Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs) in Ireland, who employ over 230 professionals. AIPCO members organise on average 96 conferences per annum, attended by 32,258 international delegates delivering an enormous economic impact of €74,620,000* per annum to the Irish economy. Business tourism is worth €740 million to the Irish economy directly supporting 20,000 jobs with a 5 year target of reaching €1 billion to our economy.

Established in 1999, the main aim of the association is to develop Ireland as a world-class international conference destination. Working closely with Fáilte Ireland and the Regional Convention Bureaux of Ireland, we bid for and deliver many International Conferences to our nation. Not only do we deliver huge economic impact to the entire tourism supply chain but we also showcase the knowledge economy of Ireland which in turn markets Ireland as a centre of excellence for research and development, as well as a haven for inward investment.

The impact of COVID19 has led to the postponement or cancellation of over 90% of International Conferences until summer 2021. As a consequence, members face substantial financial challenges or company closures due to no revenue being delivered into their business for a 12 month period but yet have huge expenditure in terms of resources and deposit payments for future conferences.

Without this valuable sector, the country stands to lose over € 200 million in economic benefit with confirmed conferences and events over the next 3 years and a further €50 million which currently lies in the pipeline for Ireland.

Immediate support is needed for the Association Conference sector to avoid such drastic losses for our country over the next three years. A small investment now will deliver a large prize for Ireland. Every €1m of tourist expenditure helps to support 27 tourism jobs. 1,000 additional overseas tourists support 20 jobs in the tourism industry. For every euro spent on tourism (domestic and overseas), 23c is generated in tax.

The AIPCO want to be in a position to continue playing our part in this business and delivering lucrative conference business to Ireland. We have produced a 7 Point Survival Plan which we believe is both realistic and feasible. We urge Government to support this survival plan as outlined below:

  1. Significantly increase resources to Fáilte Ireland to secure the immediate future of the Business Tourism Sector and to secure new leads for 2021 and beyond.
  2. Due to the long lead nature of the PCO business model, we ask for the wage subsidy scheme to be extended for our sector until March 31st, 2021.
  3. A resilience and hardship grant scheme to support our members to keep their doors open and deliver the future business to the value of over 200 million euros to the Irish economy.
  4. Financial support to International Association clients to enhance our competitive position in Europe.
  5. In addition to a general reduction in the hospitality VAT rate, we are asking for the application of a 0% vat rate for business tourism when a local Professional Conference Organiser is used. This will allow Ireland compete with other countries who are offering this incentive. This measure will have a quick win in increasing our market share.
  6. We need a convincing reassurance message for Destination Ireland. We request the development of clear guidelines of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) on how conferences will take place safely. A priority is the reduction of social distancing from 2m to 1m to ensure financial viability for conferences.
  7. A dedicated Task Force for the Association Conference Sector to contribute to the work of the Tourism Recovery Task Force.

About AIPCO (Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers) is the leading association for professional conference organisers in Ireland delivering quality education and representing 10 companies who employ over 230 professionals in the business tourism sector.

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