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MIA welcomes ‘refreshing’ roadmap but stresses need for intermedial support

The Meetings Industry Association (mia) has welcomed the Prime Ministers’ clear consideration for the events sector in yesterday’s roadmap to reopening.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “Throughout the course of the pandemic we have been calling for greater recognition of the sector and so we welcome the clear inclusion of events within the roadmap.

“The Government has provided a clear path for the sector alongside the ‘four tests’ which is exactly what we have been demanding for so many months.

“The strong correlation between reopening dates being provided, consumer confidence and subsequent enquiries is something that has been well-documented throughout our lobbying efforts, so the clear intention to reopen for events to a maximum of 1,000 as early as 17 May and large-scale events as early as 21 June, provides us with optimism that business will start to return in some capacity as early as Q2.

“Government will be reviewing its reopening plan throughout the four re-opening phases, so considering the sector’s gear-up and long lead times, it will be critical that they communicate progress clearly during the next four months to ensure venues can prepare for any form of reopening and any date changes.

“Venues will, no doubt, now be re-evaluating their reopening plans on the back of yesterday’s announcement, however amidst the intended promise, we must remain conscious of the sector’s biggest challenges, of which many are far from resolved and are still in desperate need of intervention.

“We remain acutely aware of the vulnerability of many organisations within the sector, as our latest research has shown almost half forecast their organisation will become unviable by June 2021*. It is therefore paramount that intermedial support is provided to ensure that organisations cannot just prepare for reopening but survive up until the outlined return date.

“The majority of the sector has made it very clear that an extension of the furlough scheme is required not just until they are able to re-open but to support them as they re-grow their business throughout 2021. They also need the Chancellor’s forthcoming budget to offer business rate relief packages providing an extension as well as greater eligibility for those who have been denied this support to date.

“While we continue to lobby for greater inclusion of supply chain business, sole traders and freelancers within the current support available, we will also be calling for an extension in the VAT reduction as well as the introduction of government-backed insurance schemes, mitigating the monumental challenges that persist around consumer confidence.

“The sectors’ business is often labelled amongst ‘the hardest hit’ by government, yet remains neglected as sector-specific intervention packages continue to be tailored and issued elsewhere. Therefore, while we know yesterday’s announcement provides hope and reassurance, we will be continuing to lobby for the support needed to help us reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”

*Research taken from The Meetings Industry Association’s UK Event Survey, conducted January 2021. 

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