Northern Ireland

MTV awards could be £10m hit for Belfast

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Image caption Could the MTV awards bring a £10m windfall to Belfast?

The Belfast economy has been promised a £10m boost, in terms of services and tourism, because it is hosting this year's MTV European Music Awards on Sunday night.

Fifty local companies have been hired by the American broadcaster, hundreds of local people are working at it and almost every hotel room in Belfast and beyond has been booked.

In 1999 Dublin hosted the awards, so just what happened when the circus left town? Did the city reap the promised benefits?

It was quite a while ago and when we think of what's happened in the Republic since, it's a world away, but there are those of us who remember the gig, and really who could forget that a very yellow haired and red suited Ronan Keating presented the event from the O2, which was then known as the Point Depot.

The show was representative of the buzz in the Dublin at the time, the economy was booming and the acts on stage were just as big, Whitney Houston, Boyzone, Iggy Pop and in 1999 it didn't get bigger than Britney Spears, who wowed the 4,000 strong crowd with a version of her single Crazy.

Drogheda-based Ciara Lowes, had just entered the world of PR when she landed the lucrative MTV contract: "I think for me the highlight was meeting Britney Spears, she was at the pinnacle of her career, it was just incredible," she said.

"The energy in the city was amazing, everybody wanted to be at the MTV awards, it really brought an energy into Dublin that we hadn't had before."

Image caption Britney Spears at the 1999 MTV awards in Dublin.

It wasn't just energy though, the 'celeb count' was through the roof and schoolgirls flocked outside the best hotels hoping to get a glimpse of their idols.

Irish flavour

Inside the hotels were packed too, as Paul Gallagher from the Irish Hotels Federation explains: "All the hotels in Dublin were fully booked that week, 20,000 rooms were booked for the event and it set the scene for 10 years of fantastic growth, bringing tourism into Dublin and changed people's opinions, maybe Dublin was a little bit dull before it, it was certainly vibrant after it."

As the fans gathered to scream for a very fresh faced Westlife those in tourism were rubbing their hands with glee.

Ciara Sugrue from Dublin Tourism was one of them: "We were just on the cusp of really developing Dublin as a leading European capital for short breaks and the MTV awards really gave us a huge boost and catapulted us up there among the best in Europe."

Inside the arena Mick Jagger presented Bono an award for his humanitarian efforts, but apart from handing out gongs, did the show do anything for local music?

Niall Stokes from Hot Press Magazine was there and said there "was a real Irish flavour to the night".

"Boyzone were up there receiving an award, the Corrs played and in the city there was a real sense of excitement and expectation from local musicians, the feeling was that if the Corrs can be up there this year, well so can we, and that's always a great inspiration for people," he added.

In Temple bar, tourists gather daily to take in the 'Wall of Fame' a monument to Ireland's legendary musicians and if the MTV legacy holds true for us, Belfast should soon be flooded with visitors and enthusiastic musicians… maybe we'll need our own wall of fame?

There will be more information on the economic boost from the MTV European Music Awards on BBC Newsline at 18:30 GMT.

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