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Conference market still not profitable

After £180,000 investment and eight years, the Island’s conference marketing has so far failed to deliver.

In the House of Keys this week, North Douglas MHK John Houghton quizzed Economic Development Minister John Shimmin about the number of conferences booked to come here this year.

Mr Shimmin revealed just six gatherings are taking place in the Villa Marina in the next financial year.

And he said despite a special budget of £60,000 per annum for three years being devoted to marketing the Island from 2005 . . . conferences weren’t providing a good return on investment.

Mr Shimmin said a special grant scheme had been set up to encourage Manx companies to hold conferences in the off-season, but there hasn’t been a single applicant to date.

He said 400 delegates will gather for a Jehovah’s Witnesses conference in the next year, while other smaller organisations have events planned for young carers, aviation and wildlife.

He revealed it costs £700 a day to hire the Promenade Suite, and more than £1,600 a day for the Royal Hall.
Mr Shimmin said marketing is still being done through his department’s existing budget.

It was pointed out that the economic downturn has had a negative effect on conference markets throughout the British Isles.

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