Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy, Jerry Buttimer, has today (Friday) said that funding models which would support the development of a Convention Centre in Cork must be explored. Deputy Buttimer was commenting after he raised the issue of the economic benefits of convention centres with the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, TD, and Fáilte Ireland.
“I have recently raised the issue of a Convention Centre being developed in Cork with Minister Varadkar and Fáilte Ireland, which garnered a favourable response. Minister Varadkar suggested that a similar model to the one used for the Dublin Convention Centre or a loan or equity investment from the Strategic Infrastructure Fund could be explored for possible future development.
“The Dublin Convention Centre was developed using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. At the end of the PPP it will be returned to public ownership. It is imperative that the Department, Fáilte Ireland and Cork City Council actively explore the funding models which could be used to make such a project a reality. This process should commence as soon as possible so that a project of this scale can deliver jobs, boost tourism and contribute to our local economy.
“Convention centres have the potential to contribute substantial financial benefits to local economies, particularly so when larger conferences, which cater for between 1,000 and 6,000 delegates, can be hosted. International conferences bring high yield visitors, generating revenue of two to three times that of a leisure tourist. It is important that Cork is in a position to attract these high value events and visitors and that we can compete to host events of this size.
“Since 2009, international conferences have generated €405 million for the Irish economy, bringing almost 300,000 visitors to our shores. Half of this revenue was generated by larger conferences, more than three quarters of which took place in Dublin. If the plans for a large Conference Centre in Cork become a reality it will enable our local economy to benefit from this significant income stream and create much needed jobs. Now is the time to give consideration to the most appropriate way of funding such a project so that we can examine the best way forward in commencing a project of such scale.”