Meetings industry leaders have again voiced their concerns about the critical importance of a date for reopening to be given by government. The matter was raised with some urgency at the most recent Senior Events Industry Leaders Panel held with minister of tourism, Nigel Huddleston MP (pictured). The industry leaders said that, if further damage to an already fragile Industry were to be avoided, then a ‘go’ date was essential, not least because, for many events, at least 8-12 weeks were necessary for planning purposes.
The minister has said he recognises the industry’s dilemma in wanting to get planning advanced and indicated everything was being done to ensure that the industry’s plight was fully recognised within the recovery process being progressed by government.
However, the fact remains that UK conference and exhibition centres remain closed and all business events are prohibited, while other parts of the visitor economy are to reopen on the 4 July.
The industry panel has made clear that the viability of the visitor economy was severely threatened whilst 50% of its spend was in lockdown and dependant on the operation of business and cultural events which attract millions of visitors across the country.
The damage to the industry in terms of business failure and lost jobs by not identifying an advance date for reopening was set out at the panel meeting, where industry leaders made it very clear that the continued failure to reactivate events risks major corporate and trade events being lost to international competitors in destinations that are already opening up.
The situation is severely limiting UK businesses from showcasing their products and services and communicating the message that global Britain is open for business.
Michael Hirst OBE, chairman of the Events Industry Board, within which the Senior Industry Leaders Panel sits, said: “The industry has worked tirelessly with DCMS Officials to develop Covid-19 Secure Guidelines. These were developed taking into account the need to have internationally recognised standards and represent the extensive nature of protocols being adopted in competitor nations. Despite this, they are yet to be published.”
Member participants in attendance at the Senior Events Industry Panel:
Michael Hirst OBE, chair, Events Industry Board
Ian Edwards, CEO, ICC Wales & Celtic Manor Resort, and the Welsh Government’s nominated BTA Board member
Darren Johnson, CEO, Reed Exhibitions
Simon Kimble, chair, Clarion Events
Helen McCabe, managing director, BCD UK
Nigel Nathan, managing director, Olympia
Oonagh O’Reilly, ICC Belfast
Simon Parker, Executive VP, Informa
Dale Parmenter, managing director, DRP Group
Julian Pullan, vice-chair, Jack Morton
Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCel Centre
Gareth Rogers, CEO, Farnborough International
James Selka, CEO, Manufacturing Technologies Association
Mark Shashoua, CEO, Hyve Group
Rick Stainton, Group Executive Director, Smyle
Paul Stoddard, managing director, Carlson Wagon-Lits
Mark Taylor, CEO, Queen Elizabeth Centre II
Dan Thurlow, director of exhibitions, Scottish Events Campus
Paul Thandi, CEO, National Exhibition Centre (NEC)
Michael Wryley-Birch, CEO, TRO Group
Hannah Duffy, Economic Response Directorate, DCMS.