On the ball for major events
It’s less than three weeks until the Champions League final takes place in Cardiff and excitement is building now that the two finalists have been decided.
Anticipation will be even keener now that we have a Cardiff boy in Gareth Bale lining up (current injury permitting) for Real Madrid, while their opponents Juventus can also count on lots of local support from the Welsh Italian community.
Up to 170,000 football supporters are expected to travel to South Wales for the event and all of the city’s, and most of the region’s, hotel rooms have been sold out for many weeks.
With no World Cup, Olympics or Ryder Cup this year, it is thought this is the biggest sporting event on the planet in 2017 and it is fantastic for Wales that we are hosting a match which will be beamed to a live global TV audience of 200 million – twice that of the Superbowl!
The Champions League is expected to generate an economic impact of £45m for South Wales and the Major Events Unit with Welsh Government is to be commended for bringing in this sporting spectacle – especially when you consider these facts: Cardiff is the smallest city, and Wales the smallest country, ever to have hosted the event.
So it’s another terrific example of Wales punching way above its weight on the global stage just as it did when Celtic Manor hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010 and the 2014 NATO Wales Summit.
We know better than anyone the enormous economic benefits and prestige these major events confer upon Wales and that is why we want to host more of them on a much more regular basis.
It is why we are partnering once again with Welsh Government to build the International Convention Centre Wales. Construction commenced in March and the £83.7m facility will open in the summer of 2019.
Celtic Manor is already accustomed to hosting large conferences and we have been voted the UK’s best hotel for meetings and events for six of the last seven years, but the ICC Wales will take us to another level.
It will more than triple our capacity for business events and allow us to host events like political party conferences and conventions for the largest international associations, which Wales has previously been unable to attract because we don’t have the required space and facilities.
The main auditorium of the new centre will hold 1,500 delegates. A separate main exhibition hall will stretch to 4,000 square metres of pillar-free space and be able to accommodate up to 2,400 guests for a gala dinner.
The impact of these numbers of visitors will reach far beyond the Celtic Manor Resort. The research we have carried out suggests it will bring more than 100,000 bedroom nights per year into the local economy.
Celtic Manor is already running at 90 per cent occupancy so we could probably only cater for around 20,000 of those additional nights. So that means other hotels in Newport, Cardiff and the surrounding area will be picking up 80,000 room nights, not to mention the associated spending in restaurants, shops and attractions.
Studies show that business tourists usually spend three times as much in the local economy as leisure tourists and the large-scale events that the ICC Wales will attract usually have outreach activities in the local community, or spouse and partner programmes visiting nearby places of interest.
The ICC Wales will compete with leading venues around the world and, crucially, for the first time, position Wales as a destination at the forefront of business tourism centres.
Just like Gareth Bale, the Convention Centre will be a big, big player on the international stage and has the capacity to be a real game-changer for Wales.