Event industry must engage with the Olympics, says Minister

The event industry is one of the most valuable sectors in the UK, in the run up to London 2012, according to tourism minister John Penrose.

Speaking at a review meeting with the Business Visits and Events Partnership, Penrose asked leading event industry figures to provide figures on the global value of meetings and events, as well as urging those in events to engage closely with the Olympics, particularly London-based venues and those in regional Olympic centres.

With a plethora of figures provided, it is expected that the Minister will report on the events and tourism sector in a September review, that should come as interesting reading for those working in event and function venues across the UK. The review will come ahead of the  government’s national spending review in October, which will set out spending plans from 2011-12 and 2014-15. Although cuts are expected in the wake of the deficit, businesses harnessing growth such as conference centres are anticipated to be key drivers of the economy.

Business Visits and Events Partnership Chairman Michael Hirst spoke to Conference and Incentive Travel magazine about the meeting, saying: ”We had a good meeting and the minister was very switched on about the sector… The real issue going forward is that all of this needs to be looked at against the back drop of reviewing how much money will be spent where.”

In light of spending concerns, the private sector events industry is expected to take the lead in aligning its events with the Olympics, setting the bar for events across the country.