State of the Industry 2016: Brexit the biggest threat to events

Uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum is the biggest challenge facing the UK events industry, according to a fifth of agencies surveyed in C&IT's State of the Industry Report 2016.

C&IT surveyed around 100 UK event agencies for the report and 20% named Brexit as their top concern, followed by security fears linked to the global terror threat and economic concerns.

The industry is set to debate the remain and leave arguments at a Brexit panel session "EU, In or Out?" being held at The Meetings Show at Olympia, London today.

Meanwhile, C&IT's latest Brexit poll showed that 45% of event planners felt a leave vote would be beneficial to the future of the industry.


See also:

Meetings Industry Association delegates swing towards EU exit

Brexit would mean fewer events in the UK, say BVEP members


However there is increasing concern among the remain camp that the economic impact of an exit would be negative.

Mark Baker, head of research at agency Teamspirit, said: "The financial services industry, a crucial engine of the UK economy, and a major exporter, depends for its success on the EU rules that allow firms to market their services across Europe under the UK’s financial regulations.

"Expect a deafening popping of Champagne corks in Paris and Frankfurt if the UK votes to leave the EU. They will slam the door in the face of UK firms wanting to access European customers. He added that the UK leaving the EU would mean thousands of jobs lost across different industries.

These thoughts were echoed by Will Poole, events and compliance manager at Troxy, who pointed out that staffing was also a major issue, with venues reliant on transient staff. "If quotas or limits were put on EU residents from entering the UK for work purposes, major cities such as London would have a smaller pool of staff to recruit from, meaning the likelihood of costs increasing and quality reducing is high."

According to research from wefindvenues, the impending EU referendum is already impacting the industry, by halting larger bookings. Director Paul Moynihan said: "While talking to a considerable number of regular clients who have previously made large enquiries (£20,000+) at this time of year, many are suggesting that decisions on holding bigger events are being postponed until we know whether or not the UK will choose to Brexit."

But Helen Seaman, managing director at Rapiergroup, argues that Britain should leave the EU, as an exit will put the country in a better position to negotiate with Europe. "I don’t believe that an exit from the EU will affect trading or business in the UK. Countries will still want to do business here, regardless of whether or not we are part of the EU.

See more on the Brexit debate:

BREXIT: Will leaving the EU benefit the UK events industry? 

BREXIT: instability impact 

BREXIT: economic impact

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