CALLS are being made for a dedicated, multi-purpose facility which could accommodate conferences and other events for up to 1,000 people to capitalise on business worth millions that is currently being lost to Limerick.
Celebrating 20 years since its inception, the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Limerick Bureau announced this week that previous events which have been hosted here have brought in a massive €150million spend.
With each delegate at such events worth in excess of €1,800 to the region’s economy, Karen Ronan, General Manager at the Bureau, told the Limerick Post that such a facility would “significantly enhance our efforts to attract high-end and lucrative business and sports tourism to the region”.
Ms Ronan revealed first to the Limerick Post that the Bureau has just secured the prestigious world-wide ‘Up with People’ International Alumni Association event for Limerick for next year and she will shortly to travel to the US to pitch to host the event here on a rotational basis.
“A facility where 1,000 people can sit down together at a dinner and could host conferences and events of that size would be a major factor in selling Limerick abroad,” Ms Ronan said.
“We have a fantastic facility at UL where we can have events and conferences, but that is only available to us out of term time. And at any time if we book the sports arena, it is shutting out other sporting events.
“Right now, brand Limerick is on a high and we have a major advantage with Shannon Airport on the doorstep.
“We are turning away business that we could be bringing here, particularly on the shoulder season when it would be a valuable boost.”
Ms Ronan said that while every part of the region could be considered for such a facility, “Limerick is the obvious place because there is already the infrastructure and fantastic developments underway.”
She stressed that the facility, which is envisaged to be one which would mirror the ICC in Killarney, would be a venue “for all kinds of purposes”.
“No single purpose would wash its face, so it would be a huge advantage to every sector.”
Looking ahead, Ms Ronan says the Bureau is committed to fostering collaboration and attracting events with sustainability at their core, ensuring a lasting impact and legacy.
The long-term vision includes building on the 2027 hosting of the prestigious Ryder Cup and aligning all efforts, from now until then and beyond, to attract more delegates and visitors to the region.
As a public-private partnership, the Bureau “has the advantage of having representatives of all the stakeholders and we will be working to plan this major facility together,” she said.
The bureau celebrated two decades of excellence in attracting prestigious conferences and events by hosting a celebration for its many partners and ambassadors at The Strand Hotel in Limerick.
Speaking at the anniversary celebration, Tony Brazil, Chairperson, of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, said: “Since its inception, the team has worked with hundreds of ambassadors across sport, culture, business, and academia. These ambassadors work tirelessly with us in the Bureau and Failte Ireland to bid for, and win, international events for the Shannon Region.
“Each conference or sporting delegate is worth €1,880 to the local economy so you can see quickly how valuable this segment of tourism is.”