The APPG report into the 'International Competitiveness of the UK Events Industry’ was officially launched by Nick de Bois, MP and chair of the APPG, at De Vere Venues Altitude in London yesterday.
Taking questions from the audience, De Bois was joined by a five-man panel, moderated by Richard Foulkes, vice chair of the BVEP, and featuring Julian Agostini (International Confex), Tracy Halliwell (London & Partners), Neil Brownlee (Visit Scotland) and Caroline Mackenzie (Contendam).
Michael Hirst, chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), welcomed the report and revealed that new BVEP research, due for release in early 2014, shows that the events industry has grown significantly in size.
He said: "The report refers to the industry being a formidable part of the government's growth agenda and new BVEP research, due to be released in the first quarter of 2014, will show the size of the events industry has expanded significantly above £36bn and is well on the way to exceeding £48bn, which was forecast for 2020.
"The APPG has delivered a report from which the the industry can move forward to exert greater pressure on policy makers and other influencers. It will help to secure improved policies towards the sector. We can also use the findings to emphasise just how much events contribute to the economic and social landscape of our economy and to the wellbeing of communities across Britain.
"The BVEP is happy to endorse initiatives that add value to the industry and has fully supported the inquiry from the outset."
De Bois called on the industry to respond to the report within three months. He said: "I hope the sense of the challenge that the report lays down is recognised by the industry. People will ask what is in it for them, which is a better and fitter place to do business. I hope we can get some easy hits out of this report before the next general election if the industry supports it.
"One of the first things to address is how to bring in sectors of the industry that are not fully engaged. The structures and momentum is in place but it is for the industry to decide how to bring those voices together."
Kerrin MacPhie, director of sales at ACC Liverpool and chair of the International Congress and Convention Association's (ICCA) UK & Ireland chapter, said: "There are so many different kinds of associations in our industry, but a way forward is for associations to start to gently open up their events to everyone."
Chris Parnham, chair of the HBAA, the trade association for the hotel booking agency, apartment and venue community, said: "The UK's event associations have no common objective to develop business for our own country. Associations focus inwardly on its membership, who see the world as their market, but do not focus on business in our home territory.
"Perhaps the UK's event associations need to get together under the steerage of the BVEP and develop one or two objectives that we can all agree on to make this country a better place to attract events."