A match funding scheme to help develop plans for a new world-class Wales International Convention Centre at Celtic Manor, near Newport, has been announced today by Economy Minister Edwina Hart.

The Welsh Government funding will allow Celtic Manor management to bring forward and submit the scheme, which would provide the largest convention facility of its kind in Wales and the south west of England, for outline planning consent next year.

News of this project follows the recent announcement that Celtic Manor Resort will host the NATO Summit next September.

Announcing the funding with the Economy Minister, Sir Terry Matthews, said: “Development of this convention centre will ensure that we attract significant new business to Wales. It will rival any convention facility in Europe and act as a magnet for major events, bringing huge benefits to the Welsh economy.

“We’ve made no secret of our desire to expand our successful business at The Celtic Manor and build on our status as the best conference hotel in the UK.

“At the moment, we’re in a position where we have to turn away business because we do not have the capacity to satisfy certain events. Turning away business is not something I am in the habit of doing.”

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “The Celtic Manor is already a world-class facility, hosting the Ryder Cup for Wales in 2010 and will be in the global spotlight again as it prepares for the first NATO summit to be hosted in the UK since 1990.

“I am pleased we are able to support the vision of Sir Terry and his team at Celtic Manor, to build on the successes and track record of the existing venue and, subject to planning consents, take forward proposals to create a world-class convention centre in south Wales.

“The proposed Wales International Convention Centre at Celtic Manor would be able to compete on size and quality with any other comparable venue across the border, attracting more business and business people, including international delegates, to the South East Wales City Region area and help drive growth in the Welsh economy.”

Current plans would see the Wales International Convention Centre house a state-of-the-art new auditorium, exhibition hall and complementary facilities, which would have the capacity to attract much bigger events to Wales including larger international summits and showpiece conferences for multinational, blue chip companies and associations.

It is hoped the centre would allow Wales to compete for major conference business with destinations like Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh.