After welcoming the news of a relaxation to the social distancing measures, the chair of the UK’s Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), Simon Hughes (pictured), has lamented what he says is a “shameful” oversight by the government in failing to specifically reference the events industry in today’s address by prime minister Boris Johnson, 23 June.
Conference and exhibition centres have been told they are not allowed to reopen on 4 July, prompting the urgent need of a restart date.
Despite a significant amount of planning work being done by the industry over recent weeks and, more importantly, the lack of any indication as to when live events can resume, once again the events industry has been ignored. As a result, the BVEP says it continues to warn that the sector is at significant risk of major business failures, resulting in substantial job losses, and will now strongly push the Government to provide further support for the industry beyond October.
Hughes said: “This is a bitter pill for the entire events industry, and, quite frankly, a shameful situation after weeks and months of work by the BVEP and its partners. Whilst we all welcome the relaxation of physical distancing measures, which has come as a result of sustained work by the BVEP and its partners to provide strong evidence as to how this will benefit the industry and make its survival more likely, it feels like we disappeared today.
“When can we get back to supporting the hundreds of thousands of highly skilled and talented people that work in our industry? When can we start to deliver the economic benefits that this country will need to cope with the long-term impact of Covid-19? I will be asking for an urgent meeting with our colleagues at DCMS, who have been very supportive during this entire period of uncertainty and will continue to press strongly for further support for those in the industry that have been so badly affected and impacted by the enforced pause of live events.
“As an industry we have been working together, with government, diligently looking at how we can reopen safely, while ensuring that we can have a commercially viable business model going forward. Venues, agencies and suppliers have been working tirelessly over the past few months to prepare for a green light to open. While we look forward to reviewing and implementing the detailed guidance over the coming days, which we expect to be issued shortly, we are ready to get back to work, and any further delay will hamper the recovery and threaten the very existence of our world leading and world class sector.”
The BVEP says it fully acknowledges the huge amount of work that was required to develop the series of Covid secure guidance documents, which were created in partnership with Government and with direct input from various BVEP partners, including for outdoor events the Events Industry Forum (EIF), exhibition, trade and consumer show guidance from the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and conference and meetings guidance from the Meetings Industry Association (mia). The BVEP website will have links available shortly to the guidance produced by the industry that will form part of the overall guidance produced for the Visitor Economy by DCMS.
The BVEP, which represents the vast majority of associations across the UK events sector, along with all of the leading destinations, has continued to warn that if the industry is not allowed to open up safely as quickly as possible, it risks losing in excess of £50bn of direct spend and the loss of over 500,000 jobs. It has also continued to make the case that the UK has a world class industry which has the ability, if allowed, to use the power of events to provide world class solutions to help deliver economic and cultural benefits, drive our industrial strategy, secure jobs and reinforce our international reputation.