Great day for London, says Mayor as Excel ICC opens officially
by Annie Byrne
London Mayor Boris Johnson declared the £165m Excel London ICC open today at a launch event at the venue's new extension.The launch was attended by the chairman of Excel owner, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al Nahyan, who described the completion of the facility's extension as "a landmark development for this great city".The launch gathered hundreds of UK and international events industry movers and shakers and media. Excel London chief executive Kevin Murphy unveiled the new 5,000-seat auditorium, with the ICC's extra 32,500sqm of events space on show. Murphy said London now had "the greatest convention centre in the greatest city in the world" and paid tribute to ADNEC's "vision and commitment" to plans for development that previous owners had been "unwilling" to finance.The Phase Two development continues with a £50m hotel development, owned by ADNEC and operated by the Starwood Aloft brand.Mayor Johnson, "indignant" at London's lowly 16th place ranking in the ICCA city tables for international association business, said he was confident that London's convention offer would now become "a world beater".Murphy claimed 10 major events, each bringing 5,000 delegates, were booked in to the venue and he was confident London would soon enter the ICCA city top 10 rankings."The 100-acre Excel site is now worth £1.6bn a year in terms of economic benefit for the capital," Murphy concluded.A London Future Forum organised by the Mayor's office, Excel and the International Special Events Society, tackled issues that a panel of experts claimed stood in the way of fully realising the Olympic events industry legacy.Industry PR agency Davies Tanner’s chief executive, Robert Wright, chaired a panel discussion with representatives from Cisco (Excel's technology provider), George P Johnson, Barclays Events, LOCOG and the Mayor's office. Facility and hotel availability and improvements in the transport system in the capital were key areas identified for further improvement.