In January the new Events Industry Board met for the first time at the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Towards the end of the last parliament the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Sajid Javid announced the formation of the board as a working link between the thriving business events sector and the government. The board has three key goals. The first is to help deliver more valuable business visitors to Britain in an ever increasingly global competitive environment. Second, to recognise the role the events sector can play in driving long-term inward investment to the UK by attracting some of the world’s leading business events to the UK. Finally, to use these platforms to boost exports, in line with government growth objectives.
This is the first time the events sector, in particular the business events industry, has had its own advisory board to breakdown the barriers which are potentially holding the sector back. It’s vitally important to use the “soft power” of national and local government to help win prestigious congresses, exhibitions and events for the UK. I am confident that with a clear strategy in place and cross government input, we are in a strong position to grow our reputation as a major events destination.
The events industry currently contributes over £42 billion to the UK economy, directly supports over 530,000 jobs and helps deliver platforms for UK exporters. Major events are also an opportunity to showcase Britain to international visitors as a potential permanent home for business investment. It is an industry that already offers much but, with the right level of support, could deliver so much more.
Fortunately, both the events industry and government now recognise we can indeed together achieve so much more. The first job of the board is to establish what existing international events could be targeted and brought to the UK. The board will also identify what events the UK currently offers which could be considered suitable to expand to an international audience.
To succeed a focus on practical outcomes delivering some early results will be important. Medium to long-term outcomes will help win business for the UK both through the expansion of the events sector and the wider exporting platform this will in turn create for UK plc. Government growth objectives will ultimately drive the board’s work. This requires a cross government response, and not just the welcome support of DCMS and UKTI. It requires access to senior ministerial and embassy support to help secure international events to the UK, and ensure attendance at those events from across the relevant government departments. Where there are barriers to making Britain a destination of choice, we must be ruthless in securing cross department support in removing them, and where necessary, embracing innovation, which may include recommending some areas of legislative reform.
We have four working groups to ensure progress in the key areas of competitiveness, the Ministerial Bid Support Initiative, removing barriers to growth and, of course, identifying the target list of events for Britain. Of course maintaining Britain’s competitiveness as a destination for major international events will be the bedrock of our work.
I look forward to updating you over the coming months as this exciting new initiative gathers pace.
Nick de Bois
Chair, UK Events Industry Board