A major international conference with expert delegates from all over the world could be on the way to Swansea.
The city is bidding to host the UNESCO Learning Cities 2017 conference, potentially following in the footsteps of Beijing and Mexico City.
At the 2015 conference in Mexico City, more than 600 delegates from over 100 countries attended. Those in attendance included UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Education, the Chinese Government's Deputy Secretary General and Brazil's Vice Minister for Education. Others included the Executive Vice President of the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, San Francisco's Superintendent of Education and the Public Policy Director for Intel Mexico.
Swansea received a UNESCO Learning City Award at the conference - the only one in the UK and one of only 12 worldwide.
If the Swansea bid is successful, the three-day conference would be held in the summer of 2017 at Swansea University's Bay Campus, with a gala dinner taking place at the Brangwyn Hall.
Conference advantages to Swansea would include inward investment opportunities, enhanced international profile and the opportunity to showcase excellent practice in Swansea's schools and businesses. The conference would also generate significant additional visitor spend, boost Swansea's standing as a tourist destination and support on-going efforts to attract more international students.
Swansea Council, Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Gower College Swansea are leading the Swansea bid for the 2017 conference, which has to be submitted by the end of April this year.
This is why Swansea Council is now asking its Cabinet to approve a recommendation for the authority to underwrite the costs of the conference, which would be recouped over coming months via grants and sponsorships.
Chris Sivers, Director of People at Swansea Council, said: "Swansea is a proud city of firsts, from the Swans becoming Wales' first Premier League team to Gower being named the UK's first ever designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
"We were also the UK's only city to be recognised for best practice at the last UNESCO international conference on learning cities, so it would be very fitting if Swansea was also to become the first UK city to host this prestigious conference next year.
"Hosting the conference would bring enormous benefits to Swansea and the Swansea Bay City Region as a whole, not only by generating increased visitor spend, but also by raising Swansea's global profile as a city striving for academic and educational expertise. It would also help further improve our schools, colleges, universities and lifelong learning programme through the sharing of best practices, as well as potentially encourage more investment in Swansea in future, opening up job opportunities for local people."
Professor Iwan Davies, Swansea University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said: "Swansea University is proud to be a lead partner in the bid to host the 2017 UNESCO Learning Cities conference. The University plays an active part in encouraging learners from across the world to come to the city to study and to take part in high quality research. Both UK and International students as well as visiting academics are amazed at what the region has to offer with regard to education, the economy and tourism.
"Hosting the conference at the magnificent Great Hall on the newly opened £450m Bay Campus, which UNESCO cited as an example of entrepreneurial leadership, would give us the opportunity to showcase what the University, the city and its regions have to offer, firmly putting us on the world Learning Cities map."
Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, said: "The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is honoured to be a lead partner in the bid to host the 2017 UNESCO Learning Cities conference, which will help attract further investment and prosperity to the Swansea Bay region.
"UWTSD is committed to developing a culture of learning achieved by transforming education and transforming lives. Building upon our significant investment and research expertise, we are pioneering new approaches to learning and transforming the educational experience for staff and students, to provide a vibrant student experience connecting academia with innovation, enterprise, businesses and the community.
"Our new Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter will further demonstrate our commitment to developing a culture of learning that promotes regional economic regeneration through the provision of relevant education, vocational training and continuing professional development."
Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea, said: "Gower College Swansea is delighted to support the bid to host the UNESCO Learning Cities 2017 conference, which will well and truly put Swansea on the global map.
"This is a once in a generation opportunity to showcase the very best that Swansea has to offer to hundreds of people from all over the world."
In February 2016, the Swansea Bay City Region was accepted as a member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. Swansea has recently welcomed visitors from Ireland, Japan and Uganda on study visits to learn more about the work taking place in the city.
Other attendees at the 2015 conference in Mexico City included Microsoft Mexico's Director of Education and the Managing Director of Kings Group of Companies, India.