The Meetings Industry Association (MIA) has requested an “urgent” meeting with the UK Government after warning of increasing redundancies if its events are not able to resume soon.

The body for the business events and meetings sector said the government has “missed one fundamental element of the whole reopening process” by leaving the industry out of its phased reopening plans.

The letter, which is addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston, states that without reopening the events industry, “redundancies will be catastrophic.”

MIA chief executive, Jane Longhurst, said in the letter: “The redundancies will be far reaching and far beyond the 30,000 predicted by the business meetings and events sector.

“You will see many thousands more when hotels, nail bars, gymnasiums, public houses and restaurants start to fail because the crucial local economic contribution of business meetings and events are no longer propping up their businesses.”

She added that the Government could learn from initially reinstating business meetings to then provide “insight and learnings” for other larger live activities such as major sporting, leisure or cultural events.

MIA said conference and meetings venues have been implementing the government’s guidance and have a specially prepared app enabling them to track and trace all delegates, adding that it can be linked to the NHS Test and Trace.

In addition, the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella body and advocacy group for the UK’s £70bn events industry, is calling on the Government to “save the industry from complete collapse” through further targeted and long-term support.

Simon Hughes, chair of the BVEP, said; “We have heard directly from our Minister and his officials who accept that there is nothing more that we can do to argue our case at the present time. While we find this difficult to accept, we now have to start looking at what will be required to enable the event industry to survive this unacceptable and unexplained delay.

“Every single day counts, and we now need bigger and bolder action to save our industry, get back to making meetings matter, creating terrific tradeshows, engaging audiences with experiences and delivering brilliant live content at conferences designed to help the UK bounce back safely and securely.”

BVEP is demanding a restart date in the next seven days, or failing that, evidence that has led to the decision for the industry to review. It has also urged the government to provide a raft of measures to sustain the events industry into 2021.

Image: Paul Heyes