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BVEP hopes new immigration procedures for Commonwealth Games will herald arrival of special event visas

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) has welcomed a series of changes to immigration control, including the introduction of special immigration controls for participants and accompanying persons at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow in 2014. The partnership believes other changes, announced last week, will also help the UK provide ‘a more positive welcome’ to business travellers attending events.

The BVEP, the umbrella organisation representing leading trade and professional associations within the business visits and events sector, has been calling for a special visa for all events attracting over 2,000 overseas delegates for some time and hopes the introduction of one for the Commonwealth Games is just the beginning of the Home Office’s support for such an innovation. The BVEP believes such a system will make it easier for international delegates to attend events in Britain and for them to receive a bespoke welcome and additional promotional offers to extend the value of their stay.

Recent research shows business events in the UK contribute £58.4bn to the UK’s GDP and directly employ more than 515,000 people. Attendees and accompanying persons spend £40bn.

“A special events visa was used during the London Olympic & Paralympic Games in 2012 and a similar approach will now be used in 2014 so we can see the value it brings to major events,” comments Simon Hughes, Vice Chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership. “Now it needs to be extended to other large scale events, and not just a few irregular high profile public events.”

“Following the Partnership’s research on Subvention, one of the key recommendations to make Britain more competitive internationally was the introduction of a special events visa for business events, conferences and trade shows, all of which drive UK enterprise and exports”.

The BVEP also believes that other changes announced by the Home Office last week could help support the UK events Industry, including:
• Removing the English language requirement for intra-company transferees
• Allowing tourists and business visitors to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit. This could generate additional attendance at training seminars and educational conferences in Britain.
• Expanding the activities a business visitor can do in the UK.
• Changes in the criteria for admission of artists, performers and musicians to include evidence of work at major festivals and cultural events

“All of these changes will contribute to a more positive welcome to the UK for event organisers and their delegates,” continues Hughes “It also adds to a richer experience for delegates; they can extend their stay to include other educational opportunities or to do more business in the UK.”

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