The decision to relocate the Web Summit to Lisbon from next year onwards will cost the Irish economy tens of millions of euro and should act as a wake-up call to the need for improved infrastructure here, business bodies have warned.
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave announced the decision to pull the plug on Dublin as the event’s host city from 2016 for at least the following three years and highlighted the quality of infrastructure Lisbon has to offer.
Describing it as a big decision that was difficult to make, Mr Cosgrave said the event, which has grown into Europe’s biggest tech gathering, was leaving Irish shores to continue that international growth.
“This is a big move for us, to leave Dublin after five years... It has not been an easy decision to move Web Summit from its Irish home. We are going because we want to take the next step on our journey to international growth.
“We know now what it takes to put on a global technology gathering and we know that if Web Summit is to grow further, we need to find it a new home. Our attendees expect the best,” Mr Cosgrave wrote in a blog post announcing the move.
Fáilte Ireland estimated last year’s event was worth more than €100m to the Irish economy while business improvement organisation We Are Dublin Town said the loss of the event could cost Dublin up to €50m.
The 2016 event will be held at the MEO Arena and FIL Feira Internacional de Lisboa, with a combined capacity of 80,000.
This year’s event is set to attract 30,000 attendees, an increase on the 22,000 or so that filled the RDS in 2014.
“The decision by Web Summit to leave Dublin should serve as a wake-up call to the Government about the importance of increasing investment in infrastructure.
"It’s also a reminder of how Dublin is competing with other international cities for business,” Gina Quinn, chief executive of Dublin Chamber of Commerce said.
“This year we will spend €150m on infrastructure. On a per capita basis, cities like Manchester and London are spending two-to-three times as much.
"As the Web Summit news proves, at some point this significant under-investment will come home to roost, with Dublin and Ireland missing out on investments and jobs.”
It emerged this month that the summit organisers had been in talks with a number of other cities for years, with London, Lisbon and Amsterdam among those interested in hosting the event.
Mr Cosgrave openly admitted he was in discussions with foreign representatives and last year was quite vocal about his dissatisfaction with wifi provision at the RDS which dogged the event.
The provision of wifi at this year’s event is to be handled by the Web Summit organisers.
A spokesperson for the RDS said the Web Summit is a great event for Dublin and it’s regrettable that the decision has been taken to move the event out of Ireland for 2016.
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