Events industry reacts as Britain votes to leave EU

C&IT has gathered initial reaction from the events industry over the UK's EU leave vote, with concern over the economy as the pound plunged and David Cameron said he would step down as PM.

C&IT’s most recent Twitter poll, revealed on Monday, showed that 52% felt a vote to remain in the EU would be more beneficial to the future of the UK events sector.

Richard Bridge, creative director Top Banana, said: "I think there will be a great deal more uncertainty now and I’m concerned about the EU exit will have on the economy. I think we’re going to see a lot of challenges ahead. The UK is a great nation and we were part of a great club, and I foresee a lot of potential issues ahead."

Imagination logistics director Mark Fowler said he was devastated by the result. "Travel, the economy- it will all be heavily affected. We are entering the unknown and I just don’t know what will happen," he commented.


See also:

EU leave vote could lead to events industry staff shortage

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

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


Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, called on the industry to embrace the result and react quickly now the leave result has been confirmed. "We know from talking to our members that uncertainty over the result of the EU Referendum has contributed to a lack of confidence in the stability of the industry and the wider economy in recent months.

"We need to embrace the referendum result. We can’t sit back and rest on our laurels and expect consumer confidence to return and business to just flood in – particularly from outside of the European Union. Instead, organisations need to re-evaluate their business plans and develop creative ways to actively encourage cross-border relations and inbound tourism from our European counterparts as well as diversify to attract the international pound." 

Former MP and chair of the government events board Nick de Bois, who was pro-Leave personally, said: "This momentous decision by the British people sets the course for the UK to excel in global markets, free of the heavy bureaucratic and undemocratic institutions of the EU. There will of course be a period of adjustment but the bottom line is that the future is in our own hands to determine and that presents the UK with a massive opportunity. 

"During my many debates and meetings within the events sector, whilst there was understandable anxiety about what may happen if the UK voted to leave the EU. The facts to support those concerns were in short supply and that has been the difficulty with this entire EU debate. Our events sector is the best in the world and held in very high regard across the globe for its creativity, logistical professionalism and delivering some of the best domestic and international events. It's time to put the debate behind us and seize this opportunity to grow our industry sector not just in Europe but the rest of the world."

Separately, those in the travel industry are warning of the impact of the leave vote on aviation and British travel - both inbound and outbound.

Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director of Travelzoo, said: "Following confirmation of a win for the ‘leave’ vote, the next 24 months of negotiations will be crucial for British travel - particularly if the UK Government wants to maintain inbound tourism from the EU, and avoid a price hike for Britons wanting to travel abroad.

"As such, we’re now urging the government to act quickly to renegotiate how an independent UK operates in The European Common Aviation Area. UK airlines seem unanimous in the opinion that a Brexit will lead to reduced competition, reduced routes and higher travel prices."

FRHI Hotels & Resorts president, international Jennifer Fox commented: "I’m still in shock about the decision at the moment. I really thought the UK population would vote remain. I don’t know what will happen now, it’s time to strategise. The UK is a huge market for us and so is the EU. To think about the EU without the UK is quite troubling. The way I look at it, is that the UK will always be highly desirable. I think people will still travel to Europe for meetings so I think the meetings industry will be OK. I just worry about the wider implications of the vote."

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