From the Editor: Now we can say exactly how much the country needs us

As the exhibition industry gathered in Birmingham for its annual conference last month, London declared it was open for business by staging 100 free events aimed at boosting a visitor economy that was flagging under the threat of terrorism.

The capital had been enjoying an exceptional first six months of the year. In the first quarter of 2005, overseas visitors rose by 13.8% compared with the same period in 2004 and spending was up 14.3%. International visitor arrivals to the rest of the UK for the first six months of 2005 showed a 12.4% increase on last year, while spending was up 12.1%.

This strong start led to an initial confidence that the UK's £74bn tourism industry could withstand the aftermath of the July terrorist atrocities in London. By adopting a proactive event strategy, Visit London and the Mayor's office have replaced this 'hope' with the realities of 60,000 visitors to the Brick Lane Festival, 300,000 people shopping during the Regent Street Festival and tourists embracing a wealth of other activity promoted by the Everyone's London campaign.

In Birmingham, exhibition organisers found out precisely how much impact their business has on the UK economy (page 13). An economic impact study carried out by KPMG and funded by the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) has, for the first time, revealed the true value of a medium that supports more than 136,000 jobs and attracts 17m visitors annually. The AEO is working hard to highlight the importance of exhibitions and the Exhibition Venues Association has little choice but to join the ranks of a trade body group that is beginning to show just what can be achieved with one united voice.

Finally, thanks go to the Cabinet War Rooms for hosting the judging of this year's Corporate Event Association (CEA) awards. The 2005 Event Awards is a complete sell-out so don't delay in booking tables for the CEA ceremony in November as it's sure to prove similarly popular.


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