The UK Events Industry Alliance (EIA) launched a manifesto and three key ‘policy asks’ for the government during a reception held at the Houses of Parliament in London, 17 October.
The manifesto detailed the EIA’s mission to ensure that the interests of business events in the UK are effectively represented, understood and communicated to MPs across three pillars of ‘Growth’, ‘Ensuring the UK is the World’s Meeting Place’ and the ‘Development of Skills and People’
The three ‘policy asks’, which were given to attending MPs including Sir John Whittingdale, minister for media, tourism and creative industries and Lucy Powell (pictured centre), shadow leader of the House of Commons, detail ways in which the UK government can help the events industry increase efficiency, bolster advocacy and incentivise growth.
It also calls on the government to recommit to the Business Events Strategy, launched in 2013 by the then secretary of state for culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid. To deliver on this, the government would need to commit to cross-departmental collaboration and increased engagement with the business events sector.
The ‘policy asks’ for increasing efficiency and ensuring an attractive UK supply chain in the business events sector include the creation of a short-term, non-seasonal worker visa tied to attendance of a specific event, plus a foreign travel advice database to provide clarity for outbound work and visa requirements.
The ‘policy asks’ for bolstering advocacy, include dedicated representatives in each government department with the responsibility for ministerial attendance and support of key business events across the four nations, delivery of trade missions and the use of business events to articulate government strategy.
Additionally, it asks for increased collaboration with industry to attract new events to the UK from other international destinations and ‘government support for a bidding process’.
The ‘policy asks’ for incentivising growth include tax reliefs similar to those given to the UK film and TV industry; the creation and funding of ‘regional hubs’ to recognise the economic impact of events that regularly take place in the same location such as the Farnborough Air Show; plus initiatives to promote the business events sector as a career path.
Pre-pandemic, the exhibitions industry steered £11bn (US$13.42bn) of trade into UK business. In 2022 the impact was £9.4bn, bringing 99,000 jobs and 6.1 million visitors to the UK. The EIA works on behalf of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA).
Marija Erzen (pictured left), co-founder of Solutions 2, ESSA chair and newly appointed EIA chair said: “As shown by our latest economic impact study, we are a resilient industry and though we have not yet reached 2019 levels, we are close. That said, we need the right support and better recognition of the business events industry’s potential to grow this resilience further and allow the industry to contribute to the UK’s economy, on a national and global level. The EIA brings together organisers, venues and the supply chain providing goods and services to the sector. This unity is what enables us to have a significant impact.”