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THE CCDThe long-awaited Convention Centre, Dublin, officially opened forbusiness on 7 September after 40 months of construction, andanticipation. Sarah O'Donnellwalks the floor to see what it will offerthe local and international meetings industry. October 2010 Conference+Meetings World 23A centre forconversationThe grand opening of the ConventionCentre, Dublin (The CCD), waswelcomed by a host of local meetingsindustry professionals, who hope Ireland cannow seriously compete in the internationalassociation meetings market. As Ireland's first purpose-built conferencecentre, which is a result of a Public PrivatePartnership between the Irish Governmentand Spencer Dock Convention CentreDublin, the venue can host events for up to8,000 people. The CCD's management is the NECGroup, which runs the InternationalConvention Centre in Birmingham and iscontracted to the new build for 25 years.The venue's CEO, Nick Waight, says 150events have already been secured worth?110m (£91m) in economic benefit forDublin. He adds that if every delegateconfirmed for these bookings, the figurewould be closer to ?400m. Those first to book into the new meetingsspace include The International BarAssociation, due in October 2012 for over3,000 delegates; the International StatisticsInstitute, August 2011, also for 3,000delegates; and the International AssociationVolunteer Effort, September 2012, with2,000 delegates. Banqueting events already posted on thebooks include Ireland Stand Up To Cancer,October 2010; and the Irish HospitalityInstitute Founders Banquet and HospitalityAwards, November 2010."The opening of the CCD marks thebeginning of a new era for convention andbusiness tourism in Ireland," said theTaoiseach, Brian Cowen, at the openingceremony. "Tourism is a vital export industryfor Ireland and is an essential part of theGovernment's strategy for economicrecovery and job creation."The CCD, located on the banks of TheRiver Liffey, claims to be the world's firstcarbon neutral convention centre and wasdesigned by Pritzker-Prize winning and Irish-born architect, Kevin Roche. "We startedwith a very ambitious programme that hadto be positioned on a small site," saidRoche. "The space began to developvertically and in the end this enabled us tocreate a venue that I hope people will wantto visit again and again. This is key; theconvention centre is not just the norm, andevery space where a delegate meets canspark conversation and an exchange ofideas."The venue is the first Irish public accessbuilding in the last 100 or so years and itsgreen credentials are of the highestimportance to its management. The team isworking towards the long-termenvironmental sustainability accreditation inaccordance with ISO 14001. Key to this wasits implementation of a 100 per centrenewable energy source via wind or wavepower and a waste management system toreduce traditional output by 85 per cent. To coincide with the launch of The CCD,Tourism Ireland has launched its freeConference CO2calculator app for theiPhone, which it claims is the first of its kindfrom a tourist board. The app has beendeveloped for conference and eventsprofessionals to check the carbon emissionsassociated with international delegate traveland offers tips on hosting greener meetings.Users are able to specify unlimiteddelegate departure locations, compare theemissions associated with air travel to????. 22 meeting rooms. 2,000-seat auditorium with fulltheatrical stage and fly tower. 4,500sqm of exhibition space. Theatre capacity for 3,000delegates in The Forum. Banqueting facilities for up to5,000 guests. Two large cargo lifts, which costover ?3m, including a truckcontainer lift. Located beside the new 'LUAS'tram line with its own station. Minutes from Dublin Port FerryTerminal. Only 20 minutes from DublinAirport. Within walking distance of hotels,restaurants, theatres, cafes andmany visitor attractions. The Liffey Suite can accommodate250,000 pints of Guinness.The CCD quick factsThe CCD sits proud and open for business on the banks of The Liffey

THE CCD24October 2010 Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.netCCD going in to bat for Ireland meetingsArchitect Kevin Roche (right) speaking at the opening of the CCD (left)three international destinations at a time, aswell as evaluate their chosen event ormeeting destination with travel to Dublin. Deputy Director Great Britain at TourismIreland, David Boyce, says: "One of themain reasons delegates choose to come toIreland is its green credentials. This apphelps organisers assess their conference onits CO2emissions."The CCD Executive Chairman, DermodDwyer, says: "The iconic landmark will allowus to demonstrate new internationalstandards of hospitality. I am confident weare on track to reach our goal of beingrecognised as the best conference centre inEurope by 2014."The CCD's Waight, says it has been quitea journey: "The building is one of the bestequipped and most flexible conventioncentres and our team will ensure we cancompete with the top conference venuesworldwide. We look forward to welcomingthe world to Dublin's doorstep."The gala opening for 870 internationaland local industry stakeholders featured Irishpop band Westlife. Staged in the LiffeySuite, the attendee list included 120international buyers, international media,and representatives from the broadermeetings industry.The Irish Minister for Tourism, Culture andSport, Mary Hanafin, officially openedto share ideas, network and help developsustainable businesses around the world. Speaking to CMW, the CEO of GlobeForum and co-founder of Skype, JohanGorecki, says: "There is a strong case fornetworking in Ireland and it is based ontrust. A handshake means a lot in Irelandand the event will attract over 1,000delegates with live satellite links for thosewho cannot attend."According to the Futurebrand Index, whichrates 102 destinations globally, Ireland wasin the top 10 for the ease of doing businessand ease of travel. "We chose The CCD as we wanted theevent to be associated with a venue thatrepresented the very same ideals as us,"added Gorecki.The CCD's Waight believes in the sametrain of thought. "Going forward, The NECGroup is looking to expand its managementportfolio into cities that follow a similarethos, with a particular focus on new buildssimilar to The CCD."As for competition in the internationalassociation conference market," he adds,"we feel centres such as those in Madridand Barcelona are on our level. Locally,however, as prices have come down recentlyin Ireland, every event space has becomecompetition for us."Convention centres, it seems, are nolonger enormous venues on the outskirts ofa city which have to be accessed via vasttransport links but rather places that attractdelegates into the centre of a city. Aconvention centre, such as The CCD, canact as a catalyst for communication and asan international beacon for what the cityitself stands for. Whether or not this icon ofa 'proud and confident' nation delivers whatits local meetings industry hopes is yet to beseen. It is still early days. But, as Dwyer says: "A good opening ishalf the battle and the end of the first act."Ireland's first international convention centreby scanning her palm on an entry keypad."The CCD is the latest edition to thelandscape of Dublin and is, therefore, thelatest symbol of a proud and confidentIreland," Hanafin said. The opening of the centre coincided withthe national tourism development authorityFáilte Ireland's annual 'Meet in Dublin'networking and familiarisation. The 120buyers converged on The CCD to meet acollection of Irish trade partners of FáilteIreland. The event's aim was to showcaseIreland and its facilities to internationaldecision makers in the meetings industry."The aim of the event is to continue tofacilitate meaningful business opportunitiesbetween the Irish business tourism suppliersand international associations, corporateclients and incentive agencies," said ChiefExecutive of Fáilte Ireland, Shaun Quinn,who added: "A very significant investmenthas taken place with the development andimprovement of so much of our businesstourism product over recent years."He argued that with very competitiverates, there had never been a better time tobring an event to Ireland. While commissioning and testing thebuilding, The CCD hosted The XFactor, TheBritian's Got Talent Showand 175thanniversary conference for EngineersIreland. In a major coup for the venue, TheCCD was chosen to host the Globe Forum,which will be hosted by Dublin City as partof its annual Innovation Festival. The event,taking place on 17 and 18 November, isan international marketplaceconference around the challenge of howcities can harness innovation and buildeconomies that are smarter and greener. Attracting over 1,000 delegates, includinginnovators, investors, researchers andleaders of business and government, theevent will create an innovative marketplace