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VisitBritain outlines support for Events Industry

Michael Hirst, BVEP Chair
Following a meeting with representatives of the Business Visits and Events Partnership and the “Britain for Events” campaign, Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain has outlined the support offered by VisitBritain to help grow the international demand for UK events.

VisitBritain outlined its commitment to add value to existing activities by national bodies as part of delivering its “Golden Strategy” for the period 2012 – 2020. The strategy acknowledges that business tourism remains a significant component of international tourism to the UK and is performing strongly. It states that events boost Britain’s image and business travellers are a ready audience for activity which promotes an extension of their stay in Britain for leisure activity.

The report also highlighted the potential of the sector to grow the current event attendee expenditures of £36 billion to £48 billion in 2020, all from an industry that currently constitutes 24% of all overseas visits in 2012 and accounts for seven million international business visitors. International business visits and spend also grew at a faster rate than other visitor segments in 2012 seeing a 3% growth in volume, representing the best year since 2008 (IPS).

“VisitBritain reduced its support for business tourism following a reduction to budget and subsequent restructure in 2011. Simultaneously other national tourist boards, city convention bureaux, and the sector itself have continued to promote business visits and events with positive results,” commented Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive, VisitBritain. “The challenge, therefore, is to build on this strong basis by working with bodies to assist in areas where partnership approaches can add value to the work already being done.”

In a paper presented to the Business Visits & Events Partnership, VisitBritain defines its role and positioning in growing business visits and events as:

1. Providing support for major bids, as and when appropriate to do so. Working with bidding partners, this will be through letters of support, and the provision of in kind marketing promotion (e.g. media, digital, retail and social).
2. Use the organisations overseas offices to provide insights, trade engagement and bid support in-market to assist the promotion of business visits and events, and business extender travel.
3. Profile incentive travel where opportunities exist as part of a strategy to build the luxury market.
4. “Events are GREAT Britain” has provided an example of the way in which the GREAT campaign can be broadened to address business tourism, having brought together VisitBritain, the GREAT programme team, and the sector. This offers an example for future partnership working. There are further opportunities for VisitBritain to work with the sector to exploit the involvement of UKTI and FCO with the GREAT campaign.
5. Continue to be active in pressing for improvements to the UK visa regime – a policy area frequently cited as a barrier to the growth of BVE travel from emerging economies.

In addition the industry and Britain For Events campaign will seek to work with VisitBritain to grow the offering of business extenders programmes and pre and post event visits, through tie-ups with the VisitBritain online shop as well as co-ordinating with VisitBritain and UKTI on a corporate programme using elements of the GREAT programme and VisitBritain’s “You’re Invited” campaign to encourage UK businesses to invite their overseas contacts to hold meetings and events in Britain

“We naturally welcome any positive contribution that VisitBritain can make to the UK events industry,” comments Michael Hirst, Chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership. “There is a great deal of excellent work being done at country, region and city level, but the resource of the national  tourism organisation for Britain with its strong network of overseas offices and invaluable market insights should add more opportunities to attract more events and attendees to Britain.”

Pictured: Michael Hirst, BVEP Chair

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