A US$79 billion Covid hit for UK events sector

New report outlines pandemic impact and factors shaping future recovery.

The report also finds that the pandemic has also been a catalyst for change and innovation across the entire events sector.
The report also finds that the pandemic has also been a catalyst for change and innovation across the entire events sector.

The UK events industry lost £57 billion (US$79 billion) of value from the pre-pandemic level of £70 billion, according to a major new BVEP report.

The Business Visits and Events Partnership’s new Shape of Events report estimates that overall event activity was down 84% across the UK in the 12 months from April 2020.

However, the report also finds that the pandemic has also been a catalyst for change and innovation across the entire events sector.

BVEP chair Simon Hughes said: “This report shows both the devastating impact that the pandemic has wrought on the UK events industry over the past 18 months, but also how resilient and adaptive we have shown ourselves to be. Most importantly, our report shows the significant opportunities that can be there for all of us in the future, if we continue to work together as a single united industry, and that is something the BVEP will continue to encourage and facilitate.”

More than half of operators (55%) saw event-related business reduce by 95% in the 12 months from April 2020 compared to the previous 12 months. A further fifth of operators (21%) were down by more than 85% and 11% were down more than 65%. An estimated overall average was events related business was down 84% in the 12 months from April 2020.

When it comes to the road to recovery, the three biggest issues are seen to be planner confidence, delegate confidence and international travel.

The report found that there are a number of factors, often interacting, that will shape the future of the industry, including sustainability, hybrid events, experience-led events, talent development and the tourism recovery.

The report was compiled using responses from more than 300 professionals and organisations from across the UK events sector and authored by Richard Smith from Team Tourism Consulting and John Gallery, chair of the BVEP’s Research Group. The report was sponsored by brand communications agency davies tanner, and contains several other headline findings, including:

  • 17% of event and exhibition businesses permanently ceased trading during 2020

  • 126,000 jobs were lost during the same period

  • The pandemic has also been a catalyst for change and innovation across the entire events sector

  • While the industry has been far more engaged with government during this period, there is still a need for greater, deeper, and longer-term industry representation

The report can be downloaded for free here.

Source: Meetings & Incentive Travel



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