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Business events sector has been “decimated”, support measures put forward

The business events sector has been “decimated”, the chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association has said in the wake of prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement confirming events cannot return for another six months.

“The business events sector which underpins economic growth for all industries, has today been further decimated,” said Lex Butler.

The association chair went on to say many agency and venue members have “gone beyond or are at tipping point”. She added: “They have had to make redundancies, they are unsure if their businesses can survive, many haven’t had any income for over six months. Financial reserves and overdrafts are exhausted, and this news will regrettably accelerate the inevitable.”

Butler once again demanding financial support for the events industry. “While the HBAA fully appreciates and supports the need for these tighter measures in the interests of the country’s fight back against the spread of Covid-19, we must receive substantial financial support without delay. 

“We continue to campaign and lobby for additional financial support specifically for our sector, and we have to see action now if our businesses, and the industry, are to survive.”

Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), said that the prime minister’s announcement was not surprising, but that the priority now is to identify what measures are required for events businesses to survive. “Given the scientific and medical advice put forward over the weekend, it was not surprising to learn that the majority of the UK event industry is yet again being put on hold,” he said.

“Our immediate focus is identifying what measures now need to be put in place to sustain businesses and individuals across the industry for a minimum of six months.”

Hughes added that the association group has already put forward specific measures to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to support a comprehensive rescue package.

“The question is: will our massive contribution to UK plc be recognized and sufficient measures be agreed to sustain one of the real drivers of economic recovery?”

Following the prime minister’s announcement that it would be six months before large scale events can run again, the DCMS confirmed to the Meetings Industry Association that smaller business events for up to 30 may continue to run in venues which follow the Government’s Covid-secure guidance.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said: “As the prime minister has confirmed that its latest ruling would be in place for ‘upwards of six months’, this is a further devastating blow for our sector, which has already been truly decimated by the impact of the pandemic.”

Longhurst added that without a clear re-opening date and no clear idea whether financial support would be forthcoming, the events industry has “simply been hung out to dry”.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA) described the latest Covid-19 restrictions as a "fatal blow" for the business travel sector unless the Government acts. "Our industry urgently needs financial support extended well into 2021 and the introduction of testing on departure," he said. "We want to get Britain moving – safely. Business travel powers our economy and Britain’s reputation for trade.

"Today, 50% of our industry stand to lose their jobs at the end of October and that figure is quickly rising. There is no time to delay if we want to keep Britain open for business.”