Web Summit relocation: Bord Fáilte puts losses at €37.5m

Event was seen as a showcase and a boost to Dublin’s reputation as a tech hub

As businesses counted the cost of losing the Web Summit to Portugal for the next three years, the value of the event to Dublin was up for debate.

With Lisbon estimating that the Web Summit would be worth €175 million to its economy, it was confirmed the city would provide about €1.3 million to help support the cost of staging the event, which attracted more than 22,000 people last year.

The Web Summit is expected to draw more than 30,000 attendees in its final year in Dublin. Despite estimations that the event had brought €100 million to Dublin, Fáilte Ireland said its figures estimated the Web Summit was worth €37.5 million to the city, and two years ago said it had brought €24 million.

State agencies

However, the event also provided a boost to the city’s appeal as a place to meet and do business in, the organisation acknowledged. The event has garnered more than €800,000 in funds from State agencies in the past three years.

Fáilte Ireland said it was “disappointed” with the decision to move the event, but it fully respected the decision and would continue to support the 2015 event. The tourism body has backed the event with about €150,000 in three years, including €50,000 for the event due to take place in November.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland have also helped the Web Summit on its way, with the latter investing about €455,000 since 2011. IDA Ireland, meanwhile, contributed more than €300,000 to supporting the event.

The Government has come under fire since it was announced on Wednesday the Web Summit would be held in Lisbon from 2016. The event was seen as a showcase and a boost to Dublin’s reputation as a tech hub.

Food festival

In recent years, it expanded to include events such as a food festival. It is understood the organisers were given support by Bord Bia and other State agencies.

Among the criticisms previously expressed by co-founder Paddy Cosgrave was the availability of wifi internet in the RDS, where the event has been held for the past few years. Mr Cosgrave was particularly critical last year, although this year organisers will have full control over wifi, the RDS said.

“They intend to use an international third-party provider for this service and we have been facilitating this process since November of last year.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist

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