Yesterday afternoon (10 September) members of the events industry presented evidence to representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events surrounding the strengths and weaknesses of the event industry around the UK and the role of local and national government.
Hearing the evidence were James Heappey MP, chair of the Events Industry APPG, Lord King of Bridgwater, Events Industry APPG, Barry Sheerman MP, Events Industry APPG and Chris Davies MP, vice chair of the Events Industry.
While the session had a London focus and was intended to include evidence from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan or a representative from the Mayor’s office, no representative was sent, to which Heappey expressed disappointment.
EN’s sister magazine Conference News approached the Mayor’s office for comment, and a spokesperson told the publication: “London has a global reputation for successfully hosting the biggest and most high-profile events, and the Mayor works hard to support the industry and promote our city across the world.
“He was disappointed not to be able to attend the meeting, but pleased that his official promotional agency London & Partners were able to attend and outline the important work they carry out on his behalf to support the industry and bring thousands of events to the capital.”
The spokesperson added that apologies were sent to the APPG and that the Mayor is making a written representation.
The first of three panels scheduled for the session looked at the role of London’s event venues and was comprised of ExCeL London CEO Jeremy Rees, Olympia London MD Nigel Nathan and -Simon Hughes, non-executive director of the QEII Centre.
Among the topics up for discussion were the perception of London as an international event destination, whether new venue space was needed in London and the ability of the capital to provide an appropriate ‘welcome’ to event organisers to enable the city to compete with the likes of Barcelona and Vienna (which would include support from government figures and ministers).
Hughes also briefly discussed the use of the QEII while work is done on the Palace of Westminster, stating that the proposed 2025 seemed to be already slipping and that the issue does worry clients of the venue.
The second panel was intended to feature a representative from the Mayor’s office along with Tracey Halliwell MBE, director of Tourism, Convention and Major Events at London & Partners.
At it was Halliwell presented evidence alone to the panel, and the discussion covered the financial value of the business events industry to the UK and the process/ease of communicating with the government.
The final panel featured Michael Ellis MP, who has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism since the start of the year.
Ellis stated that one of his priorities was to get more events out of London, although he also pointed out that only 62 per cent of visits to MICE in the UK were to London-based events.
He also stated that he was willing to serve as the link between government and the business events industry, adding that his office had been taking steps to encourage ministers to support trade events in their sector.
The session concluded with a brief discussion of Brexit, to which Ellis stated that vast numbers of people do and wish to come to the UK, and that he could not foresee that changing.
A more complete examination of this session will appear in the October issue of Exhibition News.