A project to help bring an extra #240 million into Birmingham's conference and events sector has been unveiled.
Marketing Birmingham is spearheading the Conference Ambassador Programme which aims to boost business in the city.
Ian Taylor, commercial director, said that by 2008, Marketing Birmingham aimed to increase the value of events in Birmingham by 20 per cent.
The programme is seen as playing a key part in trying to reach that goal, which would create added income of #240 million.
Mr Taylor said: "Birmingham is recognised as one of Europe's busiest meeting points.
The impact of the conference industry in the city is far reaching.
"In 2004 Birmingham had over a 30 per cent share of the UK association business market, with a share value of #1.2 billion.
He said the programme would increase levels of business coming into the city and "also help develop the wider economy in line with strategic areas such as the medical, high technology and communication sectors."
The project is led by the Birmingham Convention Bureau (BCB), a division of Marketing Birmingham.
It aims to provide members of the academic, medical and professional sectors with the tools to encourage key associations and institutions to host conferences in the city.
The idea is for people - the ambassadors - to call on the BCB's expertise in providing bid documents, letters of support, venue finding, familiarisation visits and marketing support.
It will also provide an accommodation booking service, a conference registration service and social programmes.
The initiative is backed by The International Convention Centre (ICC) and Advantage West Midlands (AWM), with the backing of Aston University, The University of Birmingham, The University of Central England (UCE) and The University of Warwick.
It has so far received funding of total investment of #75,000 from partners.
Councillor Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, also backed the scheme and hailed it as "an excellent demonstration of how strategic partnerships benefit the whole city."
He added: "Birmingham is competing on a global stage and is recognized as a natural choice for high profile conferences attracted by our first class venues.
"Our conference facilities are perfectly suited to the prominent educational institutions we will be attracting."
Henriette Lyttle-Breukelaar, head of tourism, for Advantage West Midlands said: " Business tourism is vitally important to the region's national and international profile and one of our strengths.'
Nick Waight, director of the ICC, said: "We have every confidence that the Conference Ambassador Programme will help generate new national and international business for The ICC and the West Midlands by working more closely with our local universities where our conference ambassadors are based. "
To find out more about the programme go to www.marketingbirmingham.com/ambassador. ..SUPL: