€1.2 billion at risk from collapse in conference sector
The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers has expressed concern that the sector has been forgotten during discussions on the economic stimulus plan.
AIPCO said that every event being organised by its members this year has been cancelled, with an increasing number of events for next year also now in doubt.
The international conference sector has a pipeline of events planned for the next decade, which are estimated to be worth €1.2 billion to the Irish economy.
The sector currently employs 230 people, but AIPCO said there are fears that many companies may not survive the current crisis, putting future events at risk.
AIPCO members organise about 96 conferences every year, which are attended by over 32,000 delegates from across the world.
But despite the reopening of some parts of the economy here, 90% of international conferences between now and summer 2021 have already been cancelled.
Ronan Flood, chairman of AIPCO, said that while international conferences fall under the banner of tourism in the minds of many, they are equally important in generating business and supporting multiple sectors.
Mr Flood said the country's knowledge economy is driven by international visitors to these events, and for years Ireland has been punching above its weight in terms of the type of events it had hosted.
"We are asking the Government to consider a more long-term approach, support conference organisers during the immediate crisis, and help to properly showcase Ireland in a post-Covid world," he added.