The Welsh government has announced it will be making a major appointment as it embarks on a new strategy to attract more major business events to the country.
The newly created role of head of business events will be central to creating and delivering a new sustainable approach for the business events team, engaging key partners across the public and private sectors and developing a long-term funding model.
Speaking to EN, Ken Skates, cabinet secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, explained that Wales is already a destination for conferencing and events, but a study commissioned by the Welsh government found that there was a huge opportunity to do even more in this space.
“The first step is improving awareness of our world-class facilities, locations and experiences, and the new head of business events will be tasked with doing just this,” said Skates.
“Wales has a competitive advantage thanks to our innovative and distinctive offering, which combines excellent venues, business and academic links, a unique mix of indoor and outdoor experiences with good connectivity from across the UK and international markets,” he added.
Our aim is to raise awareness amongst Associations, companies and conference organisers of all sectors and sizes so they consider Wales when they are planning their next event.
Skates told EN that the market for venues, experiences and corporate incentives in Wales is in good health. Wales consistently hosts international events, such as the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final, the 2014 NATO Summit, and looking ahead, the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference, which is coming in 2020.
Outdoor events are also active in Wales. Skates said experiences such as Surf Snowdonia and Call of the Wild “provide companies with exciting corporate away day options, too”.
The exhibition and conference sector is also busy, Skate said, at venues such as ICC Wales, Venue Cymru and others across Wales. “The events industry in Wales is thriving, and we’re working to make sure more companies know about it.”
The events industry has a significant impact on the economy in Wales and the government plays a key role in attracting events. “In 2016, the Welsh Government supported a programme of 35 sporting and cultural events,” skates told EN.
Commenting on the impact the events industry has in the Welsh economy, Skates said: “We estimate that over 348,000 visitors travelled to Wales to enjoy these events, spending an additional £53 million in our economy and supporting over 1,200 jobs in the tourism sector.
“In terms of business events, there is significant scope for growth as Wales currently attracts less than 2 per cent of the value to the U.K. and the new approach will address this opportunity.
Skates said Wales’ offering is diverse enough to accommodate a range of events, from small corporate gatherings to major sporting occasions.
“Our aim is to raise awareness amongst Associations, companies and conference organisers of all sectors and sizes so they consider Wales when they are planning their next event. We have fantastic expertise in many different sectors, such as energy, food, construction, technology and aerospace, and believe our offering can attract even more conferences and events in those areas.”
Skates confirmed to EN that the newly created role is part of the evolution of the new Wales business events approach, which is already underway. “In June 2017, we announced our commitment to attracting more business events to Wales, putting resources in place to develop the new approach, pro-actively taking Wales more fully into this market”
“With the appointment of a new head of business events forming a core part of delivering our vision. There are some exciting developments in the pipeline, and we will launch fully to the market in 2018.”
Applications for the newly created role of head of business events opened on 11 October, and were set to close at 4pm today (19 October).