Promotion of business events moves back to VisitBritain

The Government has asked VisitBritain to take over international business events promotion for England again, five years after it was devolved to national agencies due to budget cuts.

Michael Hirst, BVEP
Michael Hirst, BVEP

Following The Government’s triennial review of VisitBritain and VisitEngland, VisitBritain has been once again given responsibility for international business events promotion for England. It will also take over promotion at UK level alongside other GREAT partners and, where appropriate, the national tourist boards.

VisitBritain closed its business tourism unit in 2010, following government budget cutbacks, with international representation for business events falling under VisitEngland's remit, while other national agencies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were asked to maintain their own business event units.

The review has also given the go ahead for a Challenge Fund, administered by VisitEngland, which will be used to further enhance England’s tourism product to ensure that England is able to offer 'world-class visitor experiences' for both business and leisure visitors. It also recommends that DCMS should have further discussions with BIS and UKTI on how tourism’s contribution to the 2020 export strategy could be enhanced and developed.

Michael Hirst, chair of the Business visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), said: "The re-emergence of VisitBritain as a key promoter of business events internationally is something we have been lobbying for since 2010. It was a key part of our submission to the Triennial Review and is a main plank in our Manifesto.

"Naturally we are disappointed that VisitEngland has, as a result of these recommendations, lost its overseas marketing and sales activity, but we hope the new Challenge Fund will be fully applied by VisitEngland and VisitBritain to international event marketing. Equally, the indicated marketing delivery through the GREAT programme and the review with BIS and UKTI of how tourism can enhance and develop exports is something from which the Events Sector can significantly benefit."
Sally Balcombe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: "As a world leader in the industry, it is only right that we now have an overarching and aligned strategy for one of Britain’s fastest growing sectors.

"We have a clear remit on the Business Visits and Events industry both at Britain level and with our GREAT partners, so we look forward to working alongside them all on a tailored UK Business Events Portal to highlight the benefits of bringing such valuable business to Britain."

Last week, C&IT reported that business visits to the UK grew by a record-breaking 33% in January 2015, to 680,000, according to the International Passenger Survey (IPS).

Richard Foulkes, vice chair, Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), said: "Business visits in Britain continue to show strong growth, and continue to underpin the wider tourism economy.

"It is positive to report this sector demonstrating how robust it is and how it can continue to be a key driver of the tourism economy for Britain.


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