Alexander Jan, Chair of Central District Alliance commented: "This is a really excellent report highlighting the importance and economic power of business events and business travel to London and the wider economy. Central District Alliance BID members know only too well the harsh impact of a collapse in business travel on Holborn, Farringdon and the surrounding parts of the CDA neighbourhood. The report should be serious reading for the government to tackle roadblocks to restarting corporate travel which along with challenges to the international movement of labour have created real risks to our continued economic recovery and long term prosperity."
A new research report published today by the pro-cities advocacy group Cities Restart called ‘The Importance of International Conferences and Business Events to Restarting City Economies’, has revealed that spending on international conferences and business events for the UK is estimated to have been worth £19.4bn in 2019, but following the interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, by 2026 is forecast to be worth £27.6bn, a 43% increase. Although at the low point of the lockdown period spending plummeted by around 80% of 2019 levels due to the pandemic.
The economic impact analysis commissioned by Cities Restart and carried out by Tourism Economics, has further found that inbound international delegates to international conferences and business events are significantly more lucrative than domestic delegates. The research found that in 2019 the average international delegate was worth £864, whereas the value of an average domestic delegate was £154. But by 2026 this is forecast to grow to £1078 for an international delegate and £180 for a domestic delegate. Meaning by then, international delegates will be worth six times their domestic counterparts.
However, the research has also highlighted that the business events industry, which has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, faces a number of immediate challenges, with the sector not forecast to rebound to 2019 levels until 2023, suggesting a slower and more protracted recovery than what many have predicted for the wider economy.
In particular, London’s business events sector, which accounts for 40% of all spending on international conferences and business events across the UK, faces a potentially more challenging future, in part because of its greater dependence on lucrative inbound international delegates. With the research suggesting that in a worst-case scenario spending on business events in the Capital may not return to 2019 levels until 2028 at the earliest. On the upside, if the worst-case scenario is avoided, by 2026 spending on business events in London alone, is forecast to be worth £10bn.
Business leaders are now calling on the Government to introduce additional support measures, particularly those aimed at boosting confidence and attracting delegates back to business events.