Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster today announced that Belfast is to host the prestigious Routes Europe conference in 2017.

Routes Europe is a major international event bringing together decision makers from airlines, airports and tourism authorities to negotiate and build relationships that will shape the world’s future air route networks.

Arlene Foster said: “Hosting Routes Europe in Belfast in 2017 provides us with a rare opportunity to bring influential decision makers into the region and showcase Northern Ireland’s tourism and business potential.

“This conference has the potential to accelerate route development for Belfast and Northern Ireland, with previous hosts of Routes Europe confirming up to six new routes after hosting the event. This will benefit business, tourism and the aerospace sectors.

“The three-day conference will attract more than 1,200 European and international delegates bringing an economic benefit to Belfast worth over £1.3 million. Longer term benefits will come from the extensive international PR coverage for Belfast and Northern Ireland that it will generate, which will enhance our profile as a tourism destination and as a location for hosting large-scale international events.

“The winning bid was prepared by a partnership led by Invest Northern Ireland and Visit Belfast, supported by tourism organisations and our two main airports. It is an excellent example of the power of organisations working together for the good of Northern Ireland.”

Gerard Brown, Head of Future Hosting, Routes UBM EMEA said:

“We are delighted to announce that Belfast will be our host city for the 12th Routes Europe in 2017. Delegates will be exposed to the business and tourism opportunities that exist in Northern Ireland and our hosts will have the opportunity to showcase the unprecedented £300m tourism infrastructure investment of recent years to the Routes community.

The main conference will take place from Sunday 23 April–Tuesday 25 April 2017 and there will also be a programme of supporting events across the city.