Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddleston MP, who presides over the events industry, has engaged with more than 20 industry CEOs in an online panel.

Delegates raised concerns regarding cash flow and additional flexibility on its Job Retention Scheme to include eligibility for event venues and event agencies.

Delegates informed minister Huddlestone that events would be a powerful tool to kick start the economy when the lockdown restrictions are lifted and when it is safe for the public to attend gatherings once more.

The delegates, who came from destinations, event venues and creative agencies, discussed the government’s economic measures and whether they were providing enough support for the £70bn events industry, as well as what other challenges the industry was facing and what further support is needed from government.

Minister Huddlestone acknowledged that many businesses and individuals in the events industry were struggling due to Covid-19. He noted that he was grateful to the many organisations helping amidst the crisis, in particular the ExCel Centre, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and the Scottish Events Campus (SEC), which had become, or offered to become, temporary hospitals to support the NHS.

Members shared recommendations with the minister, which included improved collaboration and clear communication on the loosening of social distancing and mass gatherings restrictions. Members recommended that the government work with the industry to plan and develop clear communication of the loosening of these measures to ensure the industry can return to work sustainably and at scale. Members also recommended that clear communication and government advocacy was needed to reassure travellers and consumers that the UK is safe.

Further measures to improve cash flow for businesses and the self-employed workers would be appreciated. Other economic and policy recommendations included the government providing additional funding to the British Tourist Authority (BTA) to support the business events industry through its programmes and marketing campaigns and the government enabling an accessible and welcoming visa scheme for business travellers.

It was also noted the government should use the events industry as a catalyst to ‘kick-start’ and recover the economy after the crisis. Members noted that major international events can provide significant inward trade and investment opportunities in key government industries and shape international perceptions of the UK. They also noted that the events industry can support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Minister Huddleston actively encouraged members to continue to communicate their concerns and recommendations through industry trade bodies and noted his intention to host another panel with the advisory panel in the coming weeks.