Minister: Support for events "varies hugely" in UK

The minister for tourism and heritage yesterday (6 March) said councils and private event companies should work more closely together to reduce a huge regional variation in support for events.

Minister: Support for events "varies hugely" around UK
Minister: Support for events "varies hugely" around UK

Speaking on the opening day of International Confex at Excel London, John Penrose MP said: "We have a hugely varied level of engagement between public and private when places bid for events. Not everywhere is doing it well.

"Sometimes the council does it all, sometimes the private sector does it all and the council couldn’t give two hoots."

Penrose said cities like Liverpool, which was the European Capital of Culture in 2008, had gone through a major event process that had formed good relationships between the public and private sectors.

But he said other cities and towns needed the event bid process to run "more efficiently, more smoothly and more responsibly".

Penrose, who is the minister for tourism and heritage in England, said: "England is too far down the list of destinations. I’m fed up with that and I’m sure you are too, and more importantly there’s lots of money to be made. We need to claim our deserved place, one we have not yet earned. We need to raise the less good [areas] to the level of the average."

The minister told Event that Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) in local areas could help to improve relationships. He said: "The formality of the body doesn’t matter: it could be a co-op. But it needs to be a body with local private and public sector representatives on board."

He plans to encourage use of the government’s DMO forums, in which event planners from both sectors can share ideas and previous problems they have had with event bids.

Penrose’s presence at Confex was the first time a minister has attended the exhibition in over a decade. Michael Hirst, chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership, on behalf of the Britain for Events Campaign, described it as a "significant endorsement of the UK events industry and a sign of its growth on the government agenda".

Penrose praised "the buzz, the atmosphere and the energy" of Confex, and said: "What is worth celebrating is that we have an industry that is justifying and receding huge investments."

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