The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) today announced the results of its Events Industry Referendum Impact Survey which aimed to identify the industry’s key priorities for consideration during the forthcoming EU exit negotiations.
Drawing on responses from a broad range of event industry venues, suppliers and contractors, the survey reveals the top four priorities facing event professionals following the decision to leave the EU.
Nearly two thirds (62%) of respondents identified their number one priority as “safeguarding trade” by reducing uncertainty and engaging with new markets. The second highest consideration was reviewing existing legislation in order to ensure future business can be conducted efficiently (16%). The third most important issue was investing in UK infrastructure to improve Britain’s competitive position in the global market (12%). The final priority was investing in people in order to manage the impact of changes to foreign worker status in the UK (9%).
Britain’s reputation as an events destination was another major interest for survey respondents including: the potential perception of the UK as protectionist and unfriendly; damage to the UK’s reputation for being a modern international leader and trendsetter; and the danger of European conventions stopping the inclusion of the UK on their rotation patterns.
The survey also highlighted opportunities that have emerged since the EU referendum result. The fall in the value of sterling was cited as an opportunity for some businesses, although this was offset against projects being delivered in Europe where margins were being eroded due to the exchange rate. An increase in domestic business was cited by some respondents, particularly in relation to the need for additional conferences and meetings required by clients to help support SMEs face a more competitive trading future.
BVEP’s report points out that the questions raised by Brexit are compounded by the already wide range of issues and considerations that affect the events industry. As well as a lack of hard data on the events industry from a single recognised source, these include: workforce issues; aviation capacity; regulation; and specific initiatives such as the Tour Operator Margin Scheme (TOMS).
However, the report suggests that there is an opportunity for the industry to position itself as an integral part of the broader trading nation that needs to re-define itself with the EU and forge new trade agreements with other international markets. In other words, the future success of the UK events industry is also inexorably linked to the longer term impacts on the key industrial sectors it serves. Where the automotive sector succeeds, for example, so too will events such as product launches, dealer training session, trade shows and consumer experiences.
Calling on the events sector to help prioritise the key issues for government in the forthcoming EU negotiations, BVEP Vice-Chair and report author Simon Hughes said:
“Having identified the wide range of touch points that could affect our industry, the next stage is to identify a specific “Brexit Manifesto” to make sure events are taken into account in any positioning of UK plc. Over the next two years or so, we have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the links between events and international trade. This is a chance for all event professionals to be seen and heard, while the government’s agenda is firmly focussed on protecting and enhancing our global reputation for business”.