A new research report published by Cities Restart called The Importance of International Conferences and Business Events to Restarting City Economies has revealed that spending on international conferences and business events for the UK is estimated to have been worth £19.4 billion in 2019, but following the interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, by 2026 is forecast to be worth £27.6 billion, a 43 percent increase. Although at the low point of the lockdown period spending plummeted by around 80 percent of 2019 levels due to the pandemic.

The economic impact analysis commissioned by Cities Restart and carried out by Tourism Economics has further found that inbound international delegates to international conferences and business events are significantly more lucrative than domestic delegates. The research found that in 2019 the average international delegate was worth £864, whereas the value of an average domestic delegate was £154. But by 2026 this is forecast to grow to £1,078 for an international delegate and £180 for a domestic delegate. By then, international delegates will be worth six times their domestic counterparts.

In response, Cities Restart is proposing an eight point recovery plan to support the sector:

  1. A reinsurance scheme backed by Government to support the sector.
  2. Remain committed to the vaccination programme and, where necessary, pre-event testing.
  3. Launch a Government-backed confidence programme.
  4. Accelerate the reopening of international travel using vaccination and testing.
  5. Create “Business Events UK” on par with other industry-wide strategic bodies such as the UK Sport and Arts Council.
  6. Make more marketing and BID funding available to attract major events.
  7. Ensure responsibility is clearly assigned and coordinated across Government.

The Importance of International Conferences and Business Events to Restarting City Economies (Cities Restart website)

UK Business Events to Be Worth £27.6bn by 2026, Report Finds (Meetings & Incentive Travel article)

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