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Conference and events sector worth £2.3bn to West Midlands

A new report into the economic impact of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) to the West Midlands reveals that event delegates spent £2.3bn in the region in 2019.

Research carried out by RJS Associates for the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) shows that the region welcomed 10.1m local, national and international delegates in 2019, the final year when business events were not disrupted or affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

An estimated 105,000 MICE events took place, contributing to 14.5m delegate days spent in the West Midlands. The region’s business tourism sector supports 65,000 full-time equivalent posts.

Findings from the report were unveiled at WMGC’s 'Future in the Making II' partner event at the University of Birmingham’s new event space, The Exchange.

The research will provide a baseline for the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), which aims to capitalise on the economic opportunities that the profile of the 2022 Commonwealth Games is expected to bring.

Steve Knight (pictured), senior business tourism manager, WMGC, said: “Birmingham and the West Midlands is a modern, exciting and diverse destination, which remains a firm favourite among domestic and global organisers and delegates, thanks in no small part to its range of world-class event venues and fantastic connectivity.

“This new research highlights that the meetings and events industry remains a crucial sector, both pre- and post-pandemic, for the West Midlands and the people who live and work here.

“As we approach the 40th anniversary of our Convention Bureau and a huge year of opportunity thanks to major events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we are working hard to sell the region and its strengths to organisers across the world. We look forward to the spotlight being on the West Midlands and are eager to ensuring our visitors and delegates get the best – and safest – welcome.”

During the next 12 months, the West Midlands will welcome the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (28 July-8 August) and the six-month Birmingham 2022 Festival (March-September). Major conferences and events in the region also include the Volunteer Expo (6-7 May), the World Congress on Railway Research (6-10 June) and the Conservative Party Conference (2-5 October).

Kelly Haslehurst, marketing director, NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions, added: “Since the NEC Group reopened its doors this summer, we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of people back to do business within meetings, conferencing and exhibitions. As a group of venues, we have a proven track record in supporting organisations as they host high-profile events. We are adaptable, as the pandemic has demonstrated, and we have the space and connectivity to attract and host large audiences.

“However, the promotion of Birmingham and the West Midlands as a destination for live events is vital. From our customer insight, we know the fantastic impression delegates are left with once they have visited the ICC in the city centre and our NEC Campus. With positive developments including HS2 and our newly launched NEC Masterplan, we will further boost the region’s MICE proposition.”