| Situated on the Spencer Docks site, the 2,000-capacity National Conference Centre will cost about €380m in today's money, in an arrangement over 25 years and is to be built by the Treasury Holdings/Irish Rail consortium |
The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue, TD, today announced that the contract for the provision of a National Conference Centre in Dublin has been awarded to Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Ltd.
The Minister said that he was delighted that after so many years of planning, Ireland's National Conference Centre was now about to become a reality. "The signing today of a contract between the Commissioners of Public Works and Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Ltd represents a major milestone for Irish tourism", the Minister said. "It delivers the last major commitment in respect of tourism under the Agreed Programme for Government and follows a most successful performance by Irish tourism in 2006."
Under the public private partnership arrangement, Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Ltd, is required to design, build and finance the National Conference Centre and to operate and maintain it for a period of 25 years, after which the facility will revert to the State. In return, once the construction of the Centre is complete and it is open for business, the State will pay the Company an annual charge, the maximum total cost of which over 25 years will be just under €380m in present day values.
Work on the Conference Centre, which will be located at Spencer Dock on the north side of the Liffey, will start immediately, as the project already has planning permission.
The building has been designed by the Pritzker Prize winner, Kevin Roche, the internationally renowned, Irish-born architect, who, after graduating from UCD School of Architecture in 1945, worked with the architect Michael Scott before moving to the United States where he is still an active member of the firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. "Kevin Roche has been described as 'one of the most creative designers in glass that the 20th century has produced'", said the Minister, "and I am confident that his design for the National Conference Centre will deliver a landmark building befitting of our capital city, and outstanding among its competitors."
The Centre will be capable of accommodating up to 2,000 delegates in plenary session. It will also have some 22 multi-purpose meeting rooms and approximately 4500m² of flexible exhibition and banqueting space, along with associated press and delegate support facilities and general utility spaces. "In other words", said the Minister, " the National Conference Centre will encompass the full range of facilities usually associated with state of the art conference centres internationally."
The Minister said that the Centre is expected to be operational in 2010. "In the meantime, the operators, in co-operation with Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Dublin Convention Bureau will be engaged in marketing the Centre to secure bookings for 2010 and after. This will be crucial given that the lead in time between booking an international conference and the event taking place can range from 2/3 years for smaller conferences to as much as 7 years for very large events", said the Minister. "The prospects for the successful marketing and operation of the facility, however, will be considerable enhanced by the availability of VAT deductability of accommodation expenses for business conferences, announced in last December's Budget and included in this year's Finance Act."
| Kevin Roche (left) with the Chairman of Spencer Dock International Conference Centre Ltd (SDICC) Dermod Dwyer - - World-renowned Irish born architect, Kevin Roche is the country’s most famous international architect. Best known for his work on New York's Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, Roche has master-planned the design of world class facilities including 38 institutional and corporate headquarters together with performing arts centres, theatres, university campus buildings and the Central Park Zoo. |
Kevin Roche (born 14th June 1922) was born in Dublin, but grew up in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, and educated at Rockwell College, before studying architecture at University College Dublin. He emigrated to the US in 1948. According to The Irish Times, 'years later, he recalled having to draw acanthus leaves and fluted classical columns as part of the Beaux Arts training then offered by the UCD School of Architecture - at a time when most US students were "taught to distain the past".'
The Minister pointed out that the imminent realisation of a National Conference Centre in Ireland represents a wonderful boost for Irish tourism and for the economy generally. "The provision of a National Conference Centre for Ireland has long been a goal and aspiration of successive Governments and I am pleased to be in a position to realise it. The importance of international conferences and business tourism to Ireland and the significance of its contribution to the continuing success of this key economic sector have long been recognised. In 2006, for example, almost 300,000 overseas business visitors came to Ireland, specifically for conferences, meetings, incentive trips and trade fairs. The value of this business in terms of visitor spend was estimated at €447m. Nevertheless, with a global conference market worth up to €40 billion per year, and 870 international association conferences taking place in Europe alone, Ireland, without a dedicated National Conference Centre, has lost out on much of the available business."
According to a number of independent estimates, the National Conference Centre, when fully operational, is expected to generate additional foreign revenue earnings of between €25m and €50m per year. Furthermore, Fáilte Ireland's forecasts for 2012, which take account of the potential impact of the National Conference Centre, show promotable business (i.e. conferences, meetings, incentive trips and trade fairs) visitor numbers at 567,000, compared to 295,000 in 2006, and associated revenue at €853m, compared to the 2006 figure of €447m.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has welcomed the announcement. According to IHF estimates, the facility which is expected to be operational by 2010, will bring an additional €50 million in tourism revenue annually to the Irish economy and help Ireland attract a greater share of the €40 billion global conference market.
Annette Devine, President, IHF, noted that the recent Budget 2007 measure to allow VAT refunds on hotel costs for conference visitors also puts Ireland on a more even playing field with other EU countries when competing in the business tourism market. Devine stated, “To fully exploit the long lead in times for conference bookings, a coordinated and well-funded promotion of the facility involving Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Dublin Convention Bureau and the hotel and tourism industry needs to be now rolled out.”