04 February 2013
Belfast played host to over 400 holiday park owners and operators from across the United Kingdom who gathered in the city for their annual business convention recently (29-31 January).
The three-day event at the Europa Belfast Hotel was organised by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association which represents the UK's park industry.
It was the first time that the association, formed just over 60 years ago, has crossed the Irish Sea for its yearly summit, and it judged the occasion "an outstanding success from every perspective".
Delegates to the conference represent an industry which generates over £4 billion annually for Britain's tourism economy, as well as residential parks which provide lower-cost retirement homes.
Guest speakers at this year's event included senior figures who addressed subjects ranging from tourism trends to park management and changing regulatory requirements.
A major trade exhibition was also run alongside the conference, featuring suppliers to the industry.
But despite the packed business agenda, delegates and their partners were also provided with plenty of opportunities to discover why Belfast is a perfect scene-setter for leisure as well as work.
Making one of the biggest splashes was a celebration night at Titanic Belfast where guests enjoyed an evening of fine dining and entertainment with a nautical theme.
Captaining the conference, which brings together parks of all sizes in the UK, was chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, Northern Ireland businessman James Kennedy.
According to Mr Kennedy, whose family business operates five holiday parks on the Co Down coast, Belfast delivered one of the industry's most successful and memorable events to date:
"Our association began planning this conference over a year ago, and the great outcome is a credit to them and to the superb support provided by the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau.
"But what sealed the event's success in the minds of all our delegates was the warm welcome they received in Belfast, and genuine hospitality shown towards them throughout their stay.
"If ever there was an occasion designed to demonstrate the generosity of spirit shown by the city, this was most certainly it," he said.
Throughout the conference, Mr Kennedy was joined by Con Quill, chairman of the Irish Caravan Council and past chairman of the European Federation of Campingsite Organisations.
At the banquet on the final night of the conference, Mr Kennedy concluded his two-year term as chairman of the association by passing the chains of office to Wales parks owner Huw Pendleton.
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