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"We have simply been ignored", says Meetings Industry Association chief

The Meetings Industry Association has said it will continue to fight for support for the business meetings and events industry, following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that conferences and exhibitions will not be allowed to run from 1 October.

Read: Prime minister confirms conferences will not resume on 1 October

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “As the prime minister has confirmed that its latest ruling would be in place for ‘upwards of six months’, this is a further devastating blow for our sector, which has already been truly decimated by the impact of the pandemic.”

Longhurst added that without a clear re-opening date and no clear idea whether financial support would be forthcoming, the events industry has “simply been hung out to dry”.

She said: “I have no doubt organisers will already be cancelling their events for the next six months, which means a repeat of the cash-flow drain, experienced by venues and booking agents in the Spring.

“When we finally get the go ahead to re-open, it is going to take many, many months to re-build booker confidence and many years to see any form of recovery.

“Throughout the course of this pandemic the industry has worked hard to demonstrate the harrowing implications of its impending demise, calling upon urgent support where all forms of operations and revenue generation has been blocked by government.”

Venues have been coordinating and implementing now redundant government plans, investing what Longhurst described as “heavily depleted” financial resources to ensure they have all the necessary requirements in place to ensure they are Covid-Secure.

Longhurst noted that with today’s announcement, the events industry is “simply not being respected”.

She added: “In fact it’s much worse than that: we have been simply ignored. The prime minister thought it much more relevant to comment about the lack of spectator sport than he did the thousands of jobs across the UK that are reliant on the business meetings and event sector.

"We already know that venues have averaged a £2,398,600 loss of business to date, but unlike other sectors, business meetings and events has only received the basic package of support. This is revenue that simply cannot be borne any longer. Venues will be closing; more jobs will be lost. We need financial support as quickly as possible – without it what hope does the industry have of saving the 140,000 jobs that are on the line at the end of the Furlough scheme.”