The suggestion forms part of the Government's newly published strategy to support the growth of business visits and events, which follows informal consultation last year. The report proposes a three-tiered system for identifying appropriate central government and ministerial support.
The proposed business and events board, reporting into the ministerial GREAT Programme Board, would be made up of representatives from the industry, government departments, VisitBritain, VisitScotland, Visit Wales, Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitEngland and UKTI. It would be responsible for identifying and prioritising 'tier one' events, which could attract direct government backing of bids, letters of support from ministers, hosting by ministers of delegations or bid parties, and use of government buildings where possible.
These ‘tier one’ events would be those which have a high profile globally or within a particular sector and serve to put the UK on the map, or those which have a large investment potential. The report cites examples including major government events like G7, world expos and conferences, international trade fairs and major scientific events such as the European Society of Cardiologists, which will bring about 35,000 delegates to London in August.
Second tier events, which bring the majority of investment to the UK from the business visits and events sector, could attract a lower level of ministerial backing, including letters of support, and may not always require government intervention.
Support for these events would build on the work already undertaken by UKTI, VisitEngland, VisitScotland, Tourism Northern Ireland and the Welsh Government in supporting the bidding and hosting process for the regions. Any additional UK-wide support would focus on removing barriers faced by the sector in bidding and hosting events including visa issues for delegates.
The strategy also suggests the Home Office should produce ‘myth-busting’ advice on business visit visas, which the Business Visits and Events Partnership could distribute to its member organisations.
Support for 'tier three' events, which are likely to be smaller scale with a domestic market, would involve facilitating local authority support and links within the sector.
Other proposals outlined in the strategy include the UK Government supporting a bid for the UK to host the World Expo in 2025 and to work with partners to identify a suitable venue and location. "Consideration could include the feasibility of investing in a new, congress-style event facility or utilising existing infrastructure," the report adds.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said in his foreword to the report: "The events industry here is a world leader, but we recognise that it could be even better. It has become clear that there is a need for a more strategic, national approach and we want to seize the opportunity to present the UK as a competitive destination."
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