Industry needs red tape cuts rather than financial support, suggests government report

The events industry has urged the Government to cut red tape and create a special 'events visa' in the first ever All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry into the sector, released today (16 December).

Nick de Bois MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events
Nick de Bois MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events

APPG Inquiry into Events: Summary of key findings and recommendations

The APPG inquiry into the 'International Competitiveness of the UK Events Industry’ took place over the summer, headed by Nick de Bois MP.

In the report, the industry does not call for financial support, but instead urges the government to cut visa and taxation restrictions and to create a special 'events visa'.

The report also suggests that local government and regional subvention is 'paramount' to the UK's success as an events destination.

The report praised the UK's strong reputation among international event organisers, following the staging of the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. The industry recognised that it could be a key driver of the government's 'growth agenda' by attracting high growth industries to the UK and that the government could help the industry to achieve its aspirations of growing from its present £36bn to a projected £48.4bn by 2020. 

The inquiry received 21 written and verbal submissions from key figures and associations across the UK events industry. The report noted that "it is regrettable that there were only 21 submissions", but stated that the quality of the submissions were "extremely high".

Industry representation

Barriers to growth were exacerbated by the poor positioning of the business events industry within government and also because the industry operates in silos and needs to represent itself more coherently. The report stated that the events industry is 'most inconsistent' in how it represents itself. The sector needs to represent itself more 'cohesively to ensure it presents a more united voice to all stakeholders, not just to government'. 

Visit Britain and the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) provided a coherent voice for the industry before a spending review in 2009 meant that it could no longer represent the industry in a meaningful way.

The inconsistency was further demonstrated by the fact that the Ministerial Bid Support initiative, a resource for event organisers to request ministerial support for major event bids, has only received one official request since its introduction in 2011.

The report agrees that the BVEP is a positive move for the industry, but more organisations should support, provide greater resource and actively engage in the partnership.

Sustainability 

Sustainability is an area the industry 'needs to address quickly'. Although there are examples of major breakthroughs in the industry in terms of sustainability, there is a feeling that the sector is 'paying lip service' to sustainable issues and that a 'genuine desire from the end buyer is yet to be established and, until that is, there will not be the volume of intention towards this area.' 

Apprenticeships

There was also a lack of representation during the inquiry on apprenticeships. It was suggested by the inquiry that this area, as well as sustainability, would help the industry to win more government business and endear itself to government when asking for support.

Nick de Bois MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events, said: "The [Olympic] Games provided a much needed boost to the economy, they spurred national pride, they stimulated business and created an almost two-month long advert to visit Britain. Following on the heels of this major sporting event we will see the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Rugby Union World Cup in 2015. 

"My fear is that whilst such unique global opportunities will not present again for some time, that the ingenuity and expertise demonstrated almost on a daily basis by the events industry at business and leisure tourism events will be seen as having peaked in this brief three-year period. Instead, 2012 must represent a new catalyst for exceptional new opportunities and times in which government may not only have now recognised the UK’s predominance, but joins with industry to help stimulate a new era of growth and partnership. 

De Bois continued: "This inquiry was set out to investigate how competitive the UK is for the events industry to win business within an increasingly competitive global marketplace. I hope it will prompt the change to ensure that the mutually matched objectives of the events industry and UK plc can be met."

The full findings of the inquiry will be presented today (16 Dec) by de Bois at De Vere Venues Altitude in London.

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