Role of Britain’s Trade Events Industry

How Big is UK Trade Shows Industry

11/18/2021 3 min read

The Economic Dimensions of the UK’s Events Sector

in 2020, the UK confronts not only the impact of a pandemic but also, as it leaves the European Union, a need to realign its commercial footprint, drive UK businesses back to their peak and forge a new position on the global stage.

Yet again events held in the UK will play a critical role in achieving this and projecting the UK’s place in the world and its strengths as a nation of stature, with strong economic and cultural traditions. This time the very essence of why events are critical to the national agenda will be demonstrated to the full.

Events facilitate trade, attract inward investment and drive exports. Scientific and medical events disseminate knowledge and share research. Events drive the visitor economy.

They showcase innovation, bringing cultural, social and commercial benefits to local communities and businesses. The Economic Dimensions of the UK’s Events Sector In total, the UK’s events industry is estimated to be worth £70 billion in direct spend, accounting for over 50% of the UK visitor economy.

Over £31 billion of this total is comprised of business events, principally meetings, conferences, and exhibitions, while almost £39 billion is contributed by leisure events, including arts and cultural events, music events and festivals, and sporting and recreational events, as detailed below:

Business Events • Conferences and meetings - £18.3 billion* • Exhibitions and trade fairs - £11 billion** • Incentive travel and performance improvement - £1.2 billion*** • Corporate outdoor events - £0.7 billion**** • Total - £31.2 billion Leisure Events • Arts and cultural events - £5.6 billion**** • Festivals, fairs and shows - £6.0 billion**** • Music events - £17.6 billion**** • Sporting events - £9.6 billion**** • Total – 38.8 billion Source: UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2019 *Source: Economic Impact of Exhibitions in the United Kingdom, 2019 ***Source: Events Are GREAT Britain Report ****Source: Value of Outdoor Events 2018 (UK)

In 2018 inbound business visits to the UK represented 22% of all visits, contributing 8.4 million visits and £4.5 billion in spend. Inbound business events attendees are valuable visitors, spending 30% more on average than leisure visitors. In 2018 there were almost 5.3 million trips to the UK to attend a business event, generating almost 20 million overnight stays and a spend of £3.5 billion. 2017 research found that delegates from outside Europe spent £1,748 on average, compared to £990 by delegates from within Europe, and £329 for UK delegates. Crucially, delegates who extend their trip for leisure spend twice as much as those who do not. UK exhibitions attracted over 9.1 million visitors in 2018 to almost 1,100 major events across a range of sectors for both trade and consumer audiences. Over 178,000 exhibiting companies participated in events. Ju
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Update websitest 23 UK-based AEO members organised over 1000 events outside of the UK in 2018-19, creating £2.17 billion of turnover for these UK businesses.

Eighty-four per cent of those UK organisers operating The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) is an umbrella organisation representing leading trade and professional organisations, government departments/agencies and other significant influencers in the business visits and events sector.

BVEP and its partners and supporting organisations have a shared interest in the economic benefit and growth of conferences, meetings, exhibitions, trade fairs, incentive travel, corporate hospitality, ceremonies, as well as other business, sporting, cultural and festival events, and including a range of additional services provided to travelers and attendees at events.

The average spends by trip type and delegate origin average length of stay (4.9 nights) compared to other markets. Average incentive trip spend varies by region of Britain: London (£2,332), Scotland (£1,518), rest of England (£1,118). Delegates attending events in Scotland spend about twice as much as delegates in the rest of Britain.

The researchers suggest that the most significant reason for the vast difference in spend is length of stay. Delegates to international events in Scotland stay 2.8 nights on average, compared to delegates to international events elsewhere in Britain, who stay 1.8 nights on average. High registration fees charged at some events in Scotland also impact on the average spend.

However, it should also be noted that, for this research, all of the events covered in Scotland were international, with a higher proportion of delegates from overseas who are more likely to extend their business trips and spend more. Crucially, delegates who extend their trip for leisure spend twice as much as if they had not done so, with extenders spending an average £1,942 in total compared to £991 spent without the leisure part of their trip.

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