Visit Britain launches new Events are Great Britain campaign

Event industry professionals attended the official launch of Visit Britain's Events are Great Britain campaign at Stamford Bridge yesterday (14 April).

Chris Skeith, Michael Hirst and Chris Foy celebrate the launch of Events are Great Britain
Chris Skeith, Michael Hirst and Chris Foy celebrate the launch of Events are Great Britain

The event saw Michael Hirst, chairman, Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) and deputy chair of the UK Events Industry Board, explain the benefits of the campaign to members of the events industry.

"There is no better way than a campaign that will illustrate the breadth and depth of the events industry in Britain, and how it is contributing so much to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of our community," he said.

"That’s why we are delighted that the British tourist authority through Visit Britain has agreed to lead on the programme in one of its first initiatives following its re-adoption of the [events] sector as a priority."

He explained that the campaign will see all government departments include the events industry in its programmes when promoting Britain overseas. "This is strong evidence of the government’s understanding and intention to ensure that business events are at the forefront of its industrial and commercial strategy.

"Simply put, the objective is to tell the persuasive story as to why Britain is so great for events, and why events are so great in Britain," added Hirst.

The board

The prime minister announced that the Events Industry Board would be established to implement the new business visits and events strategy, as part of the government’s broader five-point plan for tourism. 

Chaired by Nick de Bois, Hirst said the board "is made up of representatives of the leading associations within the industry; some highly respected independent members and government departments whose policies can influence the way this industry develops."

The board is responsible for working with the government to implement the business visits and events strategy and promoting the events sector, and it creates dialogue between the events industry and the government.  

"Above all, it is there to win more business across the UK, both new events that can be attracted internationally, and to grow those events already held here which could do so with the board’s support," he added.

The board has met once so far, at which point four sub-groups were created to inform its work. Members will meet again in June to discuss their findings, where they will also start to consider which events are to receive financial support.

Members include London & Partners' Tracey Halliwell, EVCOM director Simon Hughes and Mike Rusbridge, the former chairman of Reed Exhibitions.

An exciting time for the sector

Chris Foy, the newly appointed head of Business Visits & Events at Visit Britain, explained the new campaign marks Visit Britain’s return to the events sector.

"I’ve worked in an around the Great Britain campaign since its launch shortly before the Olympic games, and I’ve seen first hand the impact this campaign has had on British trade, on investment, on education and of course on tourism itself," he said.

Foy went on to note that the campaign is much more than a promotional exercise. "It also brings practical support, budget, and a commitment at a very senior level to get behind things.

"What Events are Great doesn’t mean is intervention that duplicates a lot of the work that is going on within the UK industry. Visit Britain will work with you to add value to the work that you are doing," he added.

Foy explained that the new campaign will see Visit Britain support the events industry in more ways than one. "Visit Britain’s role is about building demand for events, it is about supporting the winning of events, of supporting the work that you do, and it is about addressing some of the areas of welcome that can do so much to enhance the experience of delegates and visitors when they come to our country."

Events are Great Britain replaces the Britain for Events campaign, and forms part of the government’s broader Great Britain campaign. It will be unveiled internationally at IMEX next Tuesday (19 April). 

More: Nick de Bois named Business Visits & Events Board chair

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