A MULTI-MILLION-POUND investment in the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) is being considered.

Bournemouth council, working with centre operator BH Live, has drawn up a long-term “programme of investment” following similar schemes at conference facilities across the country.

A series of projects have been identified, including a front extension and refurbishment work, totalling more than £20 million.

It is hoped the investment will boost the number of people using the centre. BIC events are estimated to generate millions of pounds for the region’s economy and support some 4,500 jobs.

According to the council, business visitors spend more on average (£111 per night compared with £73) than leisure travellers with more than half also willing to extend their trip for leisure purposes.

A report to Bournemouth council’s cabinet describes competition in the business events sector as “fierce”.

“Competition for conferences and other business events is not just from other major coastal resorts but from cities across the country.

“The major centres such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool have invested heavily in modern, state-of-the-art conference facilities that can be offered at subsidised rates to buyers.

“There is also increasing competition from new digital solutions with video conferencing becoming more widespread and reducing the need for face-to-face meetings and conventions.”

In 2008 and 2009 a partial refurbishment of the centre was carried out at a cost of £22m and included the creation of the Solent Hall.

Since then, more than half a billion pounds has been spent on other large conference facilities across the country.

According to the annual British Meetings and Events Industry Survey, Bournemouth has fallen from the 14th most-used business event destination in 2009 to 21st last year.

Plans have been drawn up in conjunction with BH Live for “a long-term programme of investment” including a series of projects valued at several million pounds each with the total cost “in excess of £20m”.

Members of the cabinet are being asked to approve work to develop a business case for the work which itself will cost an estimated £100,000.