England CVB on cards as bodies near merge

The possible creation of an England Convention Bureau is being mooted as tourism bodies British Tourist Authority (BTA) and the English Tourism Council (ETC) edge closer to merger. The merger will take place officially in April and discussions are already underway regarding the feasibility of an England Convention Bureau. BTA head of business tourism Adam Bates said: “Business tourism is definitely front of mind as the merge goes through, and the creation of a convention bureau seems the logical step to pulling in more C&I business for the country.” Business Tourism Partnership (BTP) chairman Michael Hirst described the move as the “most exciting news for the C&I industry for more than a decade”. He expects BTA funding to set the bureau up, then for it to run as a public/private partnership. He added: “We see it being set up for England initially, then possibly expanded to Britain.” The decision to create a convention bureau comes as criticism regarding the BTA and ETC merger hots up. A Commons Select Committee has warned tourism is under-funded and criticised the Government for not providing an adequate support structure. It also questioned whether Scotland and Wales were included in the consultation process and that the merge may compromise the devolution settlement. ETC spokesman John Cheetham said: “These findings mirror our own concerns, but it is at least a step in the right direction.” Scottish Convention Bureau head of sales and marketing Carolyn Dow is concerned Scotland will suffer in the new body’s overseas marketing but stated all parties are determined to make the merger work. The body’s name is expected to be announced later this month at the British Travel Trade Fair.

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