Minister confronted by BVEP over VisitBritain events support cuts

Minister for Tourism, John Penrose,
has been questioned about the wisdom of VisitBritain’s cuts to its support for
business events.

Attending the opening ceremony of
the Discovery Workshop, at which over 100 buyers of events in Britain were
present, Penrose was asked whether the withdrawal of VisitBritain from promoting
international conferences, trade shows and business visits from its London and
21 overseas offices ran contrary to the Prime Minister’s declared intention that
Britain’s missions overseas should step up their economic development role to
boost an export-led recovery.

The Minister responded by claiming
that VisitBritain would still support bids to attract international business
events and it was his intention to carry out a review of exactly what the
business events sector in Britain needed to advance its
competitive position. This would be done in conjunction with discussions with
other government departments and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to ensure that
the sector’s ability to generate exports was at the forefront of such
considerations.

Michael Hirst, Chairman of the
Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), who confronted the Minister,
said, “It is far from clear how VisitBritain’s continuing support for the sector
will be managed. I have met with Sandie Dawe, VisitBritain’s Chief Executive,
and am promised a response shortly to clarify how the reduced level of business
tourism support will affect the services VisitBritain currently provides to the
sector.”

He added, “It is clear, however,
that much of the current work will need to be taken on by other agencies,
including VisitEngland, which is consulting on its new strategy for business
tourism and other National bodies, like VisitScotland, the Northern Ireland
Tourist Board, Visit Wales and UKTI. The industry will need to take a far more
proactive approach to marketing and promotion in a co-ordinated approach to
replace the lack of a Britain-wide presence from
VisitBritain”.

Hirst promised that the BVEP would
continue to press the Minister on support for the sector and said: ” It makes no
sense at all that VisitBritain should be closing its business visits and events
department and withdrawing from the globally competitive business tourism
market, which currently generates nearly 30 per cent of all inbound tourism
earnings?”

Any news? Email
conferencenews@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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