Fresh life breathed into possibility of conference centre in the Mid West

Karen Ronan, General Manager of Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau.

FOLLOWING calls made last month for a dedicated, multi-purpose facility to accommodate conferences and events in Limerick and the wider Mid West region, a recommendation has been made for a study on the viability of such a project.

Last month, marking 20 years since its inception, the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau claimed that Limerick is missing out on a massive €150million conference and events economy.

Speaking to the Limerick Post at the time, Bureau general manager Karen Ronan said that “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 pointed out that each conference delegate brings around €1,800 to the local economy, and that Limerick is losing out in a major way due to the dearth of facilities to host large scale conference events.

“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,” she said.

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Now, a recommendation made in the recent Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce Report, has suggested that funding be provided to seek the viability of such a conference centre in the Mid West.

The report recommended that funding be provided “for a study on building a conference centre for the Atlantic seaboard, close to Shannon Airport, leveraging on the ambition to have a net zero Atlantic Green Digital Corridor by 2035” in an effort to “enhance the wider region as a location for business tourism”.

It was outlined in the report that, under the recommendation, Fáilte Ireland would engage with the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, local authorities – including Limerick City and County Council – and the ESB in respect of the development of the proposed conference and events centre, with a view to having further progress on the project by the end of 2024

“While Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau has been successful in attracting a diverse range of conferences and events, it has also lost out on significant opportunities with the lack of suitable venues/facilities cited as the primary reason,” the report outlined.

“Given the scale of ambition from both a tourist and business perspective for the region, the provision of a suitable conference and events facility is considered critical. This aligns with Fáilte Ireland’s ambition to increase the number of new luxury saleable experiences to maintain competitiveness and offer compelling reasons to choose the region for business and incentive events and luxury tourism.”

Welcoming the recommendation, Ms Ronan said: “The Shannon Region Conference and Sports bureau are delighted on their 20th anniversary to see the funding for a study for a conference centre as a key action in the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce Report.”

“The Mid West needs to increase its capacity to secure our share of this valuable tourism segment. Business tourism is worth €750million to the Irish economy. A conference centre that could be multi-purpose would enable us to bid for events year round.

“I look forward to collaborating with Failte Ireland and the local authorities on this study.”