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Outlook for the events industry in 2012

With rising fears concerning the state of the economy and the Euro zone crisis, alongside high hopes surrounding the Olympics, the outlook for 2012 in the UK exhibitions and events sector really is a mixed bag.

What is not in doubt is the fact that there is a lot at stake here. In a recent article in support of the Britain for Events campaign, Kevin Murphy, CEO of ExCel London, outlined the impact that the events industry has on the UK economy: “Every organisation that chooses to bring its event to the UK delivers an average economic impact of £15 million for its local economy, meaning just 10 more events held in this country would generate £150 million. That would pay for 7,000 nurses in our hospitals, 6,000 more teachers in our schools or 5,000 more police officers on our streets.”

Ocean Media, organisers of the UK Venue Show and Event Production Show, recently provided an optimistic report following research conducted amongst some 3,000 visitors. This indicated that budgets would increase by 10% year on year. Meanwhile, the Britain for Events campaign gained momentum during 2011, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, officially endorsing the campaign. In addition, the identification of business tourism as one of the areas to benefit from VisitEngland’s successful bid for £19.8 million of Regional Growth Fund will bring a welcome boost. The cash will fund the three-year ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ project and help the UK events industry to capitalise on key events in 2012 including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Diamond Jubilee, the Torch Relay and the Cultural Olympiad.

Although the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement painted a gloomy picture, with the UK growth forecast for 2012 revised down from 2.5% to 0.7%, hard-hit consumers may continue to shun foreign holidays in favour of domestic vacations and day trips, which would be a welcome shot in the arm for cultural, music and festival events in the UK.

The Autumn Statement also made provision for support for SMEs through a credit-easing programme, a £1 billion business finance partnership to raise money for medium-sized firms and a regional growth regeneration fund. The many SMEs that are service providers to the events industry may well benefit. On balance, then, things are not looking so bad for 2012.

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