The Games have showcased London as an international events destination and cemented it’s position as one of the world’s top cities for corporate events, whether for meetings or as an incentive scheme destination. But now the attention will focus on the much used word ‘Legacy’ and how London and the UK will continue to benefit. With a range of new attractions as well as major new infrastructure projects London has the ability to reign as one of the world’s top destinations for corporate events. The question is will the events industry as a whole be able to capitalise on the momentum from the Games for future London corporate events?
Having hosted the world’s media and business leaders, London has shown it has the technological infrastructure in place. Venues across the London have been invested heavily in cutting edge facilities and technological innovation (e.g. Westfield Stratford, International Convention Centre at the ExCel). Of course this technological advancement is also matched by London’s amazing heritage and historical sites such as the Tower of London and St Paul’s provide unique settings that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Furthermore the ex-Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (now Health Secretary) recently announced an extra £10m in marketing spend to promote Britain in China. Both France and Germany currently attract far more visitors from China than Britain does (500,000 and 700,00 respectively) and so ths extra marketing spend is aimed at trebling Chinese visitors to 500,000 annually, more in-line with our European counterparts. This additional marketing spend can also help boost existing marketing from London & Partners and VisitEngland, needed to increase our share of visitors from emerging economies India and Brazil.
However Breda Bubear, head of global advertising and communications at Virgin Atlantic, believes more is needed in order for London to compete. A lack of capacity at UK airports, expensive visa process and increases in APD are stunting growth opportunities according to Breda. The cabinet reshuffle, which we so wittingly referred to above, saw the removal of several key critics of a proposed third Heathrow runway from Parliament’s frontbenches which has moved once again the issue of airport capacity to the limelight. Critics of the proposed runway have moved onto the offensive, with demands that the government state it’s not ‘on the agenda’. What is clear however is that an increase in airport capacity within the UK and the South-East in particular will allow carriers to move into some of the larger emerging cities, particularly those in China, and run more services to the UK.