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Lex Butler, Chair of HBAA, State of the Nation

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The UK is slowly puttering towards a semblance of normality, with certain types of retail outlet opening, schools carefully starting back and businesses across the country beginning to grind their gears into action.  There is a long way to go, and many are starting to feel a glimmer of hope, but generally speaking, not the UK events industry. 

UK Events is far from up and running.  It has been effectively shut down since March and as an industry it has faced severe challenges. This is despite Rishi Sunaq’s Furlough scheme, Covid business grants & Government bounce-back loans. We know of many SME’s and valuable industry people that are slipping through the cracks, and now we are facing the threat of sweeping redundancies across our businesses.  By the very nature of our sector - Business Events, Accommodation & Meetings - social distancing, Covid cleanliness, travel management etc, creates acute challenges and so this crisis will continue to hit us very hard.

During this time, and in the future, HBAA will continue to provide substantial support and leadership for its members, whilst remaining at the heart of the discussions around business events, accommodation & meetings. It will highlight and promote the challenges we are facing; petitioning for support, pushing the biggest issues to the forefront, presenting the wider sector agenda and delivering valuable backing and meaningful content for our members.

Over the past few months, we have been lobbying the Government through BVEP/DCMS, delivering Webinars, running Agency Engagement Meetings, getting behind venue accreditations such as Quality in Tourism’s Safe Clean and Legal award, campaigning for 1-50 Mental Health First Aiders per employee workforce across all industries,  and re-engineering our Code of Practice to ensure it is fit for purpose in the light of the many challenges thrown up by the Covid Crisis.

As we move into the next phase of this enormous test that our country is facing, HBAA will continue to consult, collaborate and co-operate across our extended sector and with the wider UK Events industry. We will welcome and embrace bright ideas, new initiatives and best practice from within our ranks and farther afield.  We will sense check our own modus operandi, our reasons for being, our objectives and how we can deliver the type of value and support that our members need in the here and now and for a brighter future.

I have been delighted, re-assured and often inspired to see the incredible innovation, passion, sheer determination, effort and dedication that is going in to getting our sector functioning effectively again.  The spirit of generosity, the co-operation, the consideration and openness is truly incredible.  It is heartening that in these terrible times that we come together to stand strong and build our resilience for the future.  

To our members and to the wider sector, please be reassured that myself, and everyone at HBAA has your best interests at heart, and we are working as hard as we can to support you and alleviate the problems we are facing.