Industry leaders express urgency about naming a reopening date to Minister

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At the most recent Senior Events Industry Leaders Panel held with the Minister of Tourism, Nigel Huddleston MP, industry leaders voiced their concerns, about the critical importance of a date for reopening to be given, if further damage to an already fragile Industry was to be avoided. Industry leaders said a go date was essential as for many events, at least eight to twelve weeks, was necessary for planning purposes.

The Minister recognised the industry’s dilemma in wanting to get planning advanced and indicated everything was being done to ensure that the industry’s plight was fully recognised within the recovery process being progressed by government.

Conference and exhibition centres remain closed and all business events are prohibited, whilst other parts of the visitor economy are to reopen on the 4th July. It was made clear that the viability of the visitor economy was severely threatened whilst 50% of its spend was in lockdown and dependant on the operation of business and cultural events which attracted millions of visitors across the country.

The damage to the industry in terms of business failure and lost jobs by not identifying an advance date for reopening was set out at the meeting. Industry leaders made it very clear that the continued failure to reactivate events risks major corporate and trade events being lost to international competitors who are already opening up. It is set to severely limit UK businesses from showcasing their products and services and communicating the strong message that global Britain is open for business.

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Michael Hirst OBE, Chairman of the Events Industry Board, within which the Senior Industry Leaders Panel sits, said: “The industry has worked tirelessly with DCMS Officials to develop COVID-19 Secure Guidelines. These were developed taking into account the need to have internationally recognised standards and represent the extensive nature of protocols being adopted in competitor nations. Despite this they are yet to be published”

Member participants in attendance:

Michael Hirst OBE, Chair, Events Industry Board

Ian Edwards, CEO, ICC Wales & Celtic Manor Resort, and the Welsh Government’s nominated BTA Board member

Darren Johnson, CEO, Reed Exhibitions

Simon Kimble, Chair, Clarion Events

Helen McCabe, Managing Director, BCD UK

Nigel Nathan, Managing Director, Olympia

Oonagh O’Reilly, ICC Belfast

Simon Parker, Executive VP, Informa

Dale Parmenter, Managing Director, DRP Group

Julian Pullan, Vice Chair, Jack Morton

Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCel Centre

Gareth Rogers, CEO, Farnborough International

James Selka, CEO, Manufacturing Technologies Association

Mark Shashoua, CEO, Hyve Group

Rick Stainton, Group Executive Director, Smyle

Paul Stoddard, Managing Director, Carlson Wagon-Lits

Mark Taylor, CEO, Queen Elizabeth Centre II

Dan Thurlow, Director of Exhibitions, Scottish Events Campus

Paul Thandi, CEO, National Exhibition Centre (NEC)

Michael Wryley- Birch, CEO, TRO Group

Observers:

Hannah Duffy, Economic Response Directorate, DCMS