Lex Butler, Chair of HBAA said
“Yet again the Chancellor and the Government have not listened to the many outspoken voices of the business events and meetings industry asking for financial help to save jobs and keep the industry alive. Why is this sector being excluded?
“HBAA has tirelessly lobbied for our voice to be heard and for actions to take place, whilst working in collaboration with other industry associations.
“Whilst we support and welcome the boost to hotel accommodation, restaurants and leisure attraction businesses, how and when will business events and meetings industry be considered? We need to save ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ in the £70bn business events, accommodation and meetings sector now.
“We do welcome the short term cut in VAT for hotel accommodation, food and leisure attractions and the Eat Out to Help voucher which will all support customer confidence. and we also welcome the job retention bonus, the Kick Start and trainee schemes, apprenticeship funding and green jobs.
“Sadly, these great initiatives and opportunities to take on young people and train them are arriving just as others are leaving the industry at the same time through redundancies.
“We need financial support immediately. We need a reduction in VAT for our sector, on venue bookings and event organising services, and we need a delay in paying corporation tax to support the many businesses which are in dire financial straits.
“The only good news today for the business events and meetings sector came before the Chancellor’s statement in Prime Minister’s Questions when, in answer to a question from Stephen Hammond MP about events, the Prime Minister said that there would be ‘news later in the week.’ We can only hope that it is good news.
“The news we desperately need is a start date for meetings and events. Although hotels have re-opened they are unable to host meetings and many conference centres and event venues remain closed. Many restaurants also rely on corporate groups, so the hospitality industry is only really half open and barely able to operate profitably due to the lack of business from the events, and meetings sector.
“Business events are now able to take place in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland but not in the UK, so the UK economy is losing income to these countries. Why are we so different?
“This £70bn industry was thriving and making a major contribution to the economy. It only needs support because social distancing will make it one of the last to reopen. We need a start date urgently and financial support to keep it alive. Too many talented people – over 30 per cent of agency staff – are on the verge of losing their businesses and their jobs.
“Today’s announcement is yet another blow for an industry that is, quite frankly, on its knees and our people are massively affected today and potentially in the future. “
HBAA, the trade association for the hotel booking agency, apartment and venue community, has more than 300-member organisations including over 90 agency and 215 venue members who work collaboratively in the accommodation, meetings and events sector.
HBAA drives, promotes and models good business between its members. It champions best practice, ethical working and sound commercial judgement, making HBAA membership the mark of quality assurance for the sector. It operates a Code of Practice which assures best practice between agents, hotels and venues.