Attendees at the Britain for Events cocktail reception at The Mermaid, 19 October, held to celebrate the National Events Month October (NEMO), got their first glimpse of the MP lined up to spearhead a reformed All Party Parliamentary Group for events.
James Heappey, MP for Wells in Somerset (pictured), told the audience gathered at The Mermaid conference and events centre’s Upper River Room in the City of London that, with the Glastonbury Festival in his constituency and the Royal Bath and West Showground, he was “acutely aware of the value events bring to the economy”.
He pledged to follow in the footsteps of Nick de Bois as the events industry’s parliamentary champion and his confirmation in the APPG leadership role should be confirmed, he said, in the coming week.
Heappey had been introduced by Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) chairman Michael Hirst, who told the audience of industry leaders that business visits were now the best performing part of the UK’s visitor economy. “In the last published ONS figures to June, business visits were up 11.5% year on year,” he said.
He added that the BVEP had now 24 partners and was pushing a “persuasive story” to government about the value of events.
Hirst said in his presentation: “The value of our industry to Britain’s visitor economy has risen from just over £39.1bn to £42.3bn, with the help of additional attendances and spend at conferences, music festivals and of course the Rugby World Cup. This alone is estimated to be a £937m contribution to the travel economy right across the country.”
The BVEP chairman went on to remind the audience that at the previous year’s National Events month reception, the industry’s manifesto for the general election had been launched: ‘Events can WIN for Britain’.
“Following some very strong collaborative working with officials in DCMS, the coalition government published its first ever strategy for the business visits and events sector. This was aimed at bringing Whitehall Departments together in pursuit of policies that would help the industry to become bigger and more efficient, to target support to attract more international events to Britain; to grow existing events capable of becoming world-class and to encourage greater local authority support through highlighting best practice and raising awareness of how events benefit local areas,” Hirst noted.
“Not all policies initiated by a previous government get carried over to a new government. Therefore we were delighted that the Prime Minister announced as part of the new government’s five point plan for tourism, that an Events Industry Board would be established to implement the strategy,” he said.
The BVEP chairman added that the Board’s structure and remit would likely be announced by the end of the year, after the government’s spending review.