The Chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Michael Hirst,
has urged ministers to recognise how the success of business events during the Olympics can become a major part of the Games legacy. He said to not do so would be a “missed opportunity”.
Hirst and the BVEP will meet with Nick Baird, the Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), to discuss how to best realise the potential of the sector for boosting tourism and trade.
“The Games have clearly demonstrated both the economic and social impacts of major events at a national and local level and their power in selling our national tourism product,” said Hirst. “Our industry remains one of the clear beneficiaries of the Games through conferences and exhibitions and local community events held during the Olympics and those being attracted in the future because of it.”
Ministers with tourism and business interests need to underline the role this sector has played and will continue to play in showing off Britain as a successful destination for international meetings, conferences and trade fairs, prestigious cultural events and festivals, Hirst said.
In his keynote tourism speech on 14 August, Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt announced £8m for a marketing campaign targeting Chinese visitors and £2m to boost domestic tourism.
New targets were set for overseas visitors to rise from 30m today to 40m by 2020. The government also hopes to treble the number of Chinese visitors to 500,000 by 2015 and promised more work would be done to overcome the visa regime and aviation capacity impeding these targets.
“The business events community will welcome this additional support to bring more visitors to Britain, especially if some of it is targeted towards business visitors and event attendees,” Hirst said. “However, it is not clear how much of the funding will be allocated specifically to promoting business visits and events.
“The ‘GREAT’ campaign is designed to focus primarily on Britain’s trade potential and events are included in this programme. However, the extra marketing funds going to VisitBritain are unlikely to be allocated to promote business visits, as VisitBritain regrettably no longer has a remit for this lucrative tourism sector.”
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