A hotel levy has been proposed to fund local events, aping a model introduced Stateside

Addressing the issue of government support for events and the need for better research on events impact (as addressed by Access publisher Mash Media, The Fair and NTIA last issue), James Heappey MP, chairman for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events, addressed audiences at the Event Production Show.

He said that options for funding an effective events infrastructure in local regions could include a local hotel levy per room.

“I was in Nashville, with local leaders and heard the city government talk about how they built this amazing events centre that is occupied 49 weeks per year. They have all these hotel rooms, but put on a massive country festival to plug a gap in occupancy.

“Why can’t we do that here? US states have organised local teams and are more entrepreneurial. A hotel tax provides an amount per night in local coffers to resource their local events team and build facilities. All I’ve heard from UK is push to reduce hotel VAT.”

“There’s huge value in local government taking the lead in benefitting the city, providing high quality graduate jobs to the country and internationals to your area. Money raised from hotel rooms can grease the wheels.”

Alan Miller, chairman of The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) added that the Bataclan terror incident in Paris raised a stark reminder about the value of culture and events to our way of life:

He said: “The world’s press rightly said that no one has the right to threaten our way of life. And this is true of Britain too. We go out of our way to meet one another, we dance, and we have a smorgasbord of offerings that help shape swathes of our economy.

“This includes whole areas for real estate. Meanwhile, sectors like advertising, film and fashion are impossible to comprehend with out our events sector.

“The music in advertising and fashion is informed by events, for example. UKplc need to use events as a great asset as to why people should invest here.”

David Tunnicliffe, commercial director, GL events UK meanwhile, praised the resilience of the events industry, and highlighted how people rarely reflect on the wider impact of their roles. “As an industry, we get on with it. We work with automotive, sporting events, arts centres, we work in so many areas. We crave that challenge.”

The Fair CEO Nick Morgan, who chaired the meeting, added that exhibitions are well served by government, but festivals often don’t have hard wired internet, or access to the hard data. “We need to represent how important we are to the economy. There’s quite an archaic attitude from many, who fail to realise our contribution to transport, infrastructure, hotels, and the local business benefits.”