MPs get the message at BVEP reception
by Annie Byrne
On the day that national tourism boards VisitBritain and VisitEngland had their budgets slashed by 34 per cent, 150 meetings and event industry guest VIPs came to the House of Commons, 20 October, to lobby MPs to stand up for the industry’s interests. MPs were presented with copies of the Business Visits and Events Partnership’s (BVEP) Manifesto for events and the new Business for Events market report which this week valued UK business tourism at £36.1bn to the economy.Forty-three MPs, not including absent host Tobias Ellwood MP, turned up to the reception. Don Foster MP, co-chairman of the backbench media and sport committee, stood in to welcome the guests. He said many of his colleagues had shown interest in joining an all-party parliamentary group to support the events sector across Whitehall. He said also; “No one in the coalition is pleased with the cut to (the budget of) VisitBritain. It had been, said Foster, “a very difficult decision”.Hirst told MPs that it was crucial ministers got involved more in the bidding process for major events. Excel London CEO Kevin Murphy injected some passion into the evening with a rallying call to support the UK meetings and events industry which, he believed, had earned a global reputation. “Many leaders of industry want to hold their events here. We are simply the best at it, and have a rich history of creating some of the most iconic major events ever staged.”“Excel London,” said Murphy, “has been a success story partly because we have an owner that saw the potential the UK and London had to offer, putting in £167m of private investment. ADNEC recognised the potential.”Other speakers, including VisitBritain Chief Executive Sandie Dawe and Michael Hirst OBE, Chairman of the BVEP, underlined the importance of recognising the Olympic legacy potential for the UK events industry. Those attending the reception, sponsored by International Confex, also got to eat their cake, in celebration of the BVEP’s 10th birthday. The event formed part of this week’s Britain for Events 2010 campaign. Hirst pointed out that BVEP now lobbied government for the interests of 22 meetings and event industry trade associations and for an industry that provided 530,000 direct jobs and numbered 25,000 SMEs. “We have got our act together,” he said and dipped into his inner Edwardian, reprising Macmillan’s phrase when asked what would determine the Government’s destiny: ‘Events, dear boy, events’. Don Foster MP told EN that the coalition government wanted to remove ‘market failure’ from the general economic equation, pointing out the Comprehensive Spending Review had seen Local Enterprise Partnerships created and powers of local councils to raise money for projects boosted. This, said Foster, could include plans for new venue construction. “Our policies are about helping the industry, help itself,” he stressed, adding that a £1.1bn regional growth fund, he added, would provide further opportunity.