At least two new hotels – including a George Best themed hotel – are set to be developed in Belfast this year by luxury hotel developer Signature Living as a direct result of the city’s attendance at the world’s largest property investment event last year.
The announcement came today at the Waterfront Conference and Exhibition Centre as Belfast revealed that it will take its largest ever trade delegation when it returns to MIPIM in Cannes next month, with a record financial support of over £250,000 from private sector sponsors and stakeholders.
MIPIM, an annual global property investment conference that brings together the most influential players from all international property sectors, is at the centre of Belfast City Council’s ‘Go to Market’ strategy, which also includes inward and outward trade delegations to and from Nashville, Boston and China in the coming months.
Councillor Aileen Graham, chair of the Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, said that with the recent political developments across Europe, in the USA and closer to home, it was more important than ever that Belfast promotes itself on the global stage.
She said: “There is tremendous energy in Belfast and the city has already reinvented itself. Investors, developers and employers who are familiar with the city, and its people, recognise that we are on the cusp of another phase of transformation, and that now is the time to invest in Belfast.
“But there are many more potential investors and developers out there who are not familiar with the opportunities in our amazing city. That is why it is vital we do not sit at home in the vain hope that we might catch their eye – instead, we need to proactively go out to the world during the coming year. We are confident we will reap the benefits of this approach in the years ahead.
“Today’s announcement about two new hotels for Belfast, including a George Best themed hotel, is evidence of the value of such an approach, since conversations in relation to these projects started at MIPIM last year. We would not have reached where we are today if we had not attended MIPIM in 2016.”
Lawrence Kenwright, director of Signature Living which will develop the new hotels in Belfast said: “I was hugely impressed by what I saw of Belfast at MIPIM in 2016 – so much so, in fact, that I have visited the city seven times in the past 12 months to find out more.
“It is clear to me that Belfast is at an exciting stage in its development, with so much happening around the city. Most importantly, it is looking outward and forward and, as a result, I believe the city will really continue to flourish in the coming years.
“I am confident that Belfast is an excellent city in which to invest and, to that end, have committed to commencing development of two new city centre hotels in 2017 – one of which will have a strong George Best theme. All together we are looking to create five hotels in the city and are very close to agreeing terms for the acquisition of a landmark building in which we will develop the first.
“These hotels will not only boost Belfast’s already thriving tourism sector, but will contribute significantly to the local economy through the creation of up to 500 jobs during and post-development.”
Belfast City Council’s chief executive Suzanne Wylie said: “Recent independent UK-wide reports by reputable organisations such as Deloitte and CBRE have shown that Belfast is on an upward trajectory and we need to build on this momentum.
“We are extremely ambitious and believe we can attract another £1 billion of real estate investment, including new offices, hotels and leisure, and retail developments.
“We have a real focus on growing tourism, financial technology, and creative and digital technologies – including cybersecurity. This will drive up demand. We are now the number one city in the world for US cyber FDI and have been the second fastest growing knowledge economy in the UK for three years in a row.
“The council is playing its part with our 20-year strategy – the Belfast Agenda – which aims to increase our population by 70,000 and create 50,000 jobs, as well as deliver a Local Development Plan that paves the way for these targets to be met.
“But we recognise that none of this can be achieved without a collaborative effort with the private sector, our city institutions and Invest NI. For that reason I am delighted at the level of support we have secured for our attendance at MIPIM next month and I believe we can build on the success of last year’s event.”
Jackie Henry, chair of the Belfast MIPIM Steering Group, said that that the event presents an invaluable opportunity to highlight the momentum that is driving Belfast’s growth and success, and the wealth of investment and development options on offer to inward investors.
“The delegation’s role will be to champion Belfast as a gateway to talent and a magnet for inward investment. In the past year since MIPIM 2016, Belfast has hosted numerous visits from international investors, developers and occupiers. A number of the schemes have been brought forward as a result of the business connections made at MIPIM – with Signature Living’s two new hotels being a great example – and others are still working with us on matching up their aspirations with the opportunities here.
“MIPIM 2017 will be about building on last year’s success. We have been hugely encouraged by the level of support we have received this year and a much larger delegation means that this year’s campaign is 80% funded by the private sector.
“We will be focused on increasing the level of investor interest this year by highlighting how and why Belfast is an attractive city for investors, and what is driving growth and regeneration in the city. We are once again putting in place a busy programme of events to showcase the city and ensure that the Belfast proposition at MIPIM is as compelling as possible.”
The delegation will host over 20 unique events at the Belfast stand across the three days at MIPIM, with each event centred around a range of ‘key strengths’ that underpin the city’s investment proposition, including: Talent, Tax, Technology & Innovation, Location, Fast Growth Sectors, Track Record for FDI, and Quality of Life