VisitBritain business visits and events unit ‘at risk’ of shutdown

VisitBritain is set to pull out of
meetings industry trade shows,
including EIBTM and IMEX.

Director of Strategy and Communications at the
agency’s Tourism Affairs division Patricia Yeates, confirmed to CN that the four-strong business tourism
team led by Head of Business Visits and Events Simon Mills, was “at risk” of
being wound up. A 90-day consultation period is underway, Yeates pointed out,
but said she was optimistic some
functions of conference bid support would be carried over to other VisitBritain
departments.

The 34 per cent budget cut to the national
tourism board budget is impacting its business tourism marketing hard. The
agency announced in a statement 9
February that 70 jobs were at risk
in total as it pulls in its horns oversees. VisitBritain is to cut its presence
in 14 overseas markets.The agency said it would “reduce its level of
business tourism activity”, with its Finance, IT, HR and Communications
operations hit in particular. 

The lease on Lower Regent Street
for the Britain and London Visitor Centre
expires in 2012 and will not be renewed. VisitBritain and VisitEngland will
remain co-located at their offices at 1 Palace Street in London.

Visit
Scotland’s Business Tourism
Unit meanwhile has been revving up
its efforts, and its head Neil Brownlee was this week in a bullish mood outlining a list of
developments and
investments in the sector, when he
brought a team to London for a media dinner at the newly refurbished Savoy earlier this
week.

It appears
that Visit England and Visit Scotland may have an opportunity to expand their
work in the business tourism field and, at least, partially fill the vacuum left
by the VisitBritain cuts in the lead up to London
2012.

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Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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