Industry aims to boost overseas standing

The Business Tourism Partnership (BTP) and Trade Partners UK have launched an initiative to win back international business travel following 11 September. The initiative has now approached 46 embassies to ensure overseas missions are more aware of the importance of inter-national trade promotion from conferences and exhibitions held in the UK. "While there is no absolute value on the amount of business tourism lost, we’re suggesting that from the US terrorist attacks, plus the cost of foot-and-mouth, we will be 20% down on last year," said Adam Bates, head of business tourism at the British Tourist Authority (BTA). It is also hoped the initiative will stimulate trade opportunities through attracting more international conferences, including major trade fairs and association conferences, especially in science and medicine. The UK’s conference and exhibition sector is estimated to be worth £8.3bn, £6.6bn of which is generated from the approximate 1.3m conferences held each year. "We have given the overseas embassies information on how certain sectors operate and how they can find business opportunities, and also let them know they have a resource in the BTA and Trade Partners UK," added Bates. "We want to show them why they should come to the UK." Chairman of the BTP, Michael Hirst, said the body’s recent report, Business Leads The Way, called for greater prominence to be given to the benefits of trade development through business tourism and this initiative was a positive step. "We had asked for more assistance for overseas buyers to attend events, help with market intelligence and lobbying for events that are attracted to the UK," he said. In addition, the UK is likely to see a growth of conferences from UK companies looking to stage their events here. "The information I’ve been given from all my contacts on this side of the industry is that UK firms are looking closer to home for their conferences," Bates added. "There are now great deals to be had."

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