2016: The year that was

CN looks back at the biggest stories from the UK MICE industry in 2016

1. Brexit

The year will forever be remembered as the year the UK voted to leave the European Union. Ever since the EU Referendum result the UK events industry has been scrambling for answers.

James Heappey, MP, and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for UK Events has been steering the industry towards greater unity as it heads towards the uncertainty.

2. Heathrow is go

Heathrow airport was given the green light to expand in October. The plan, which include the construction of a third runway, was generally welcomed by the UK events industry.

3. VisitBritain launches £4m programme

In August, VisitBritain launched a £4m funding programme designed to attract more global business events to the UK. The four-year Event Support Programme offered the chance to apply for funding from a pool of £1m annually.

4. Leicester Business Festival

This year’s Leicester Business Festival was the biggest in its history. 117 events took place during the two week event, with 12,500 visitors passing through the doors.

5. QEII Centre to house the Lords?

The need for urgent £3.9bn restoration work at the Palace of Westminster means that the House of Lords will need temporary accommodation. In September it was controversially announced that London’s QEII Centre could fill that role. It did not go down well with the events industry.

6. Grass Roots taken over

The UK events industry was shocked to learn that Grass Roots had entered into an agreement to be acquired by Blackhawk Network Holdings, a leading prepaid and payments global company based in California.

7. Government comits to events

The Events Industry Board and Business Visit and Events Partnership (BVEP) welcomed the government’s renewed commitment to the events industry.

The new Tourism Action Plan, launched in August, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to helping the events industry.

8. Events are GREAT

VisitBritain’s Events are GREAT Britain was launched in April as a means to act as the umbrella brand responsible for driving international business to the UK. Regardless of Brexit, the campaign seems to be going well.

9. Terror threatens

Terrorism reared its ugly head once more in 2016, forcing the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) to release a statement deploring such atrocities. The reaction of meetings industry leaders to terrorism incidents and the effects to on-going event activities was one of unity.

10. Confex was a success!

International Confex in March celebrated its evolution as the UK’s biggest events exhibition. The show, held at Olympia London, inspired more visitors in 2016 with a leading programme of speakers and first class exhibitors that underlined its ambition to be an Ideas Factory. 2017 looks to be even bigger!


Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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