13 Jul 2020

Small steps are not big enough of bold enough for the UK event industry

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) the umbrella body and advocacy group for the UK’s £70 billion events industry, is now calling on the Government to save the industry from complete collapse by providing further targeted and long-term support for the sector.

Last week was profoundly disappointing, as the event industry had been expecting some positive news from the Government around a timetable for a re-start (as promised by the PM in answer to a question put to him the week before), a very small step forward has been taken with the publication last Friday of agreed guidance for restarting some elements of the UK’s outdoor event industry. Outdoor performances, county shows, firework displays, and a range of other small-scale events will now be allowed as long as they adhere to the Covid-19 secure planning guidance.  This has been developed by the Event Industry Forum supported by DCMS and representatives from across the events industry.   

While this is good news for outdoor events, which are worth £30.4 billion per annum, with the BVEP welcoming the publication of the guidance and the opportunities that this will create for people to attend outdoor events in a safe and secure setting, it still leaves a significant part of the UK event industry waiting for its ‘green light’. 

Simon Hughes, Chair of the BVEP, said; “We have heard directly from our Minister and his officials who accept that there is nothing more that we can do to argue our case at the present time.  While we find this difficult to accept, we now have to start looking at what will be required to enable the event industry to survive this unacceptable and unexplained delay.  Every single day counts, and we now need bigger and bolder action to save our industry, get back to making meetings matter, creating terrific tradeshows, engaging audiences with experiences and delivering brilliant live content at conferences designed to help the UK bounce back safely and securely.” 

Without a start date being provided, the BVEP is now demanding that the Government provide the following to save the industry from total collapse;

1.         If no start date is made available in the next seven days, then the medical and scientific evidence that has led to such a decision should be provided to the industry for further review. 

2.         Failure to provide a date should also trigger a specific raft of measures designed to sustain the events industry into 2021, with fiscal support to enable both fixed and variable business costs to be met. 

3.         Freelance talent and the vast number of SME businesses that make up the event industry will also require specific support, as many have not benefitted from any of the existing measures that have been put in place so far and many continue to face significant hardship.

4.         We would urge the Government to create a significant and sector specific Recovery Fund, to help kickstart and rebuild the events industry over the next three years, as has been done with the cultural sector.

“As welcome as this news is for the outdoor events industry and coupled with the various other measures outlined in the summer statement from the Chancellor that will help the hospitality sector, the fact is that over 50% of the visitor economy depends on the activity generated by the UK events sector. Half price vouchers for a meal in August won’t compare to the economic impact that the business events industry will bring to bear when it is allowed to re-start.  If we can’t get a re-start date in the next week or two our focus will inevitably have to switch from restarting to seeking massive fiscal support to sustain the event industry that appears to be at the very back of a very long queue.  The reality is we should be in the much shorter queue for those willing and able to help kick start the economic revival.

“There is still significant demand for exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, congresses and B2B events of all sizes and description. Our partners have been supplying evidence of both the range of events, the value and the economic impact that could be brought to bear across the whole of the UK.  But right now, events in Q3 & Q4 are like sand in the hand, as every day of delay is making our organisers and clients re-assess their plans.  This is not just about heads on beds for the hotel trade, which is desperate for the whole of the events industry to get back to business, it’s about retaining our international competitiveness in the face of uncertainty and gearing up the key industrial sectors by bringing them together again to help manage the challenges ahead” concluded Hughes.




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