MPs take evidence from industry on second day of APPG inquiry

MPs sitting on the All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into the competitiveness of the UK events industry have heard evidence on the barriers to bringing events into Britain during yesterday's (Monday 17 June) session at the House of Commons.

APPG inquiry takes place at House of Commons
APPG inquiry takes place at House of Commons
In a second round of questioning at the House of Commons, MPs quizzed James Morgan, director of education for the UK Chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES); Tracy Halliwell, director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners; Fiona Pelham, managing director at Positive Impact; Caroline Mackenzie, director of business development for Congrex; and Visit Britain’s chief executive, Sandie Dawe.

First, Halliwell spelled out the economic benefits for London and the UK of being able to attract major conferences such as the European Society of Cardiology Congress, which will bring 35,000 medical professionals and their partners into the capital over the summer in 2015.

Visit Britain’s Dawe then widened the picture to outline which other UK cities were performing well as business events destinations, before Congrex’s Mackenzie cited some of the barriers preventing the UK from competing with overseas cities who offer subvention incentives, an easier visa application system and more support from central government.

"Not only is our visa application system making it near impossible for major events from destinations like China to choose the UK, it is also making it harder for European businesses with a multinational workforce to bring their meetings to Britain," Mackenzie told the MPs.

ISES’s Morgan complained that a legacy opportunity from London 2012 was being missed as the creative events sector, responsible for the global spectacle of the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, is effectively being ignored by UKTI, which appears obsessed with promoting UK manufacturing overseas instead.

Whilst, Positive Impact’s Pelham called on the Government to take a lead on sustainable event purchasing by incorporating the ISO20121 standard into its procurement requirements.

Pelham said: "The high cost of staging major events in the UK is a challenge that needs addressing but taking a global lead on event sustainability is a relatively quick and easy thing to do and will make Britain a more attractive proposition."

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