herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

State gave €600k in support but city 'took in €37.5m' over Web Summit

Paddy Cosgrave
Paddy Cosgrave

A DIRECTOR of Web Summit said the infrastructure needed to hold bigger international conferences existed in Lisbon - and that Dublin does not handle conferences of up to 50,000 people.

Daire Kelly said infrastructure was vital to allowing the summit to grow in size and the company's decision to switch it from Dublin to Lisbon next year "speaks for itself".

"Our main reason for moving was that Portugal and Lisbon gave us the infrastructure to grow as an event and an organisation, and that's the main reason for moving, as opposed to any simple financial reason.

"Obviously, if we can grow the summit from what it was last year - 22,000 people and this year it will be 30,000 people, and if we can grow that onwards to 40,000 or 50,000 people, Dublin doesn't host any conferences of that size. You'd have to talk to the city.

embarrassing

"I suppose what we do know is Lisbon is a good place for us," he said.

When asked by the Herald if the embarrassing breakdown of WIFI services at a past Summit influenced the company's decision to move, he said: "I don't want to comment further on that, but infrastructure is very important to the Web Summit."

A number of State agencies gave support to the Web Summit in recent years with the Industrial Development Authority working closely with it. A Failte Ireland spokesman said it gave the Summit a total of €150,000 in services over the past three years in the form of coach transports between hotels, organising entertainment and hospitality events for delegates, hosting tech journalists and other services.

surprised

"Very big international events can change countries in different years. We're not really surprised by what has happened," said a Failte Ireland spokesman.

They were "disappointed" that the Web Summit was being moved as it was worth €37.5m a year to Dublin, he said.

Enterprise Ireland paid €455,000 in participation fees for its displays at the summit between 2011 and 2014, said a spokesman.

Dublin City Council said it did not give any cash contribution to the Web Summit but has facilitated it through making Herbert Park available for their ancillary events, by agreeing to road closures and generally coordinating the city's support for it, including garda resources, Dublin Bus services and other measures.

Mr Kelly said that Taoiseach Enda Kenny (inset) had pointed out that the summit had brought tens of millions to the Irish economy when he attended last year.

"They (State agencies) got bang for their buck," he added.

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