MPs get the message at BVEP reception

On the day that national tourism boards
VisitBritain and VisitEngland had their budgets slashed by 34 per cent, 150
meetings and event industry guest VIPs came to the House of Commons, 20 October,
to lobby MPs to stand up for the industry’s interests.

MPs were presented with copies of the
Business Visits and Events Partnership’s (BVEP) Manifesto for events and the new Business for Events market report which
this week valued UK business tourism at £36.1bn to the
economy.

Forty-three MPs, not including absent host
Tobias Ellwood MP, turned up to the reception. Don Foster MP, co-chairman of the
backbench media and sport committee, stood in to welcome the guests. He said
many of his colleagues had shown interest in joining an all-party parliamentary
group to support the events sector across Whitehall. He said
also; “No one in the coalition is pleased with the cut to (the budget of) VisitBritain. It had been,
said Foster, “a very difficult decision”.

Hirst told MPs that it was crucial ministers
got involved more in the bidding process for major events.

Excel London CEO Kevin Murphy injected some
passion into the evening with a rallying call to support the UK
meetings and events industry which, he believed, had earned a global reputation.
“Many leaders of industry want to hold their events here. We are simply the best
at it, and have a rich history of creating some of the most iconic major events
ever staged.”

“Excel London,” said Murphy, “has been a
success story partly because we have an owner that saw the potential the
UK and London had to offer,
putting in £167m of private investment. ADNEC recognised the
potential.”

Other speakers, including VisitBritain Chief
Executive Sandie Dawe and Michael Hirst OBE, Chairman of the BVEP, underlined
the importance of recognising the Olympic legacy potential for the UK
events industry.

Those
attending the reception, sponsored by International Confex, also got to eat
their cake, in celebration of the BVEP’s 10th birthday. The event formed part of this week’s Britain
for Events 2010 campaign. 

Hirst pointed out that BVEP now lobbied
government for the interests of 22 meetings and event industry trade
associations and for an industry that provided 530,000 direct jobs and numbered
25,000 SMEs.

“We have got our act together,” he said and
dipped into his inner Edwardian, reprising Macmillan’s phrase when asked what
would determine the Government’s destiny: ‘Events, dear boy,
events’.

Don Foster MP told CN that the coalition government wanted to
remove ‘market failure’ from the general economic equation, pointing out the
Comprehensive Spending Review had seen Local Enterprise Partnerships created and
powers of local councils to raise money for projects boosted. This, said Foster,
could include plans for new venue construction. “Our policies are about helping
the industry, help itself,” he stressed, adding that a £1.1bn regional growth
fund, he added, would provide further opportunity.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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