City region bids to attract major business events with £4.4m budget

ACC Liverpool

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is set to approve funding for a five-year plan to attract major business conferences and sporting events to the ACC Liverpool facilities on the waterfront.

Under the proposal, a £4.37m fund would be created with the combined authority contributing £1.42m towards attracting major events. The remainder would come from private sources.

The money would be used to ensure Liverpool remains competitive in attracting lucrative business visitors by offering funding support to national and international conferences, as well as major sporting events at ACC Liverpool.

Last week the city was named as 2023 host for the Eurovision Song Contest which is expected to bring a multimillion-pound boost for the local economy.

The proposed fund would also go towards research and engagement support at the Liverpool Convention Bureau.

If approved at this Friday’s combined authority meeting (September 14), the authority would support the five-year project while it transitions to a commercially self-sustaining model funded from private sources.

Hoteliers and serviced accommodation owners in Liverpool will start balloting on October 28 over creating an Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID) that would provide the private sector funds for the initiative.

Inclusive economy and third sector portfolio holder, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: “We are working hard to ensure Liverpool City Region’s visitor economy recovers strongly from the pandemic. Last year we approved a £1.5m fund to attract visitors back to the city region.

“Ensuring Liverpool City Region remains competitive in attracting major conferences and events is vital, if we are to increase the number of business visitors who occupy hotel rooms during weekdays. These events also allow us to showcase the city region’s strengths to potential investors.”

Culture, tourism and the visitor economy portfolio holder, Cllr Mike Wharton, said: “Our visitor economy is vital to our region’s prosperity and business visitors and conferences are a crucial part of that sector. If approved, this investment will enable us to really sell the city region, attracting high profile conferences and sporting events, and ensure that we can compete with major cities.”

The initiative is Phase 2 of a Growing Business Events project that started in 2019 and ends in March next year. Progress in the last financial year has seen 30 conferences recommended for support, which are forecast to generate more than £13m for the economy.

Hotel occupancy is greater at weekends, however, the business visitor economy is particularly useful in generating bed nights during the working week.

The proposed Strategic Investment Fund-backed project would start in April 2023 and seeks to stimulate inward investment and business growth through its support for major events. It would promote the city region’s strengths through conferences and help rebuild confidence in the visitor economy following the pandemic.

Attracting business conferences would allow the city region to showcase its strengths in priority sectors to delegates and enhance its reputation as a strong investment location. In addition, business visitors may experience the city region for the first time and consider returning as a leisure visitor.

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