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Beware knock-on effects of Brexit, warns Tracy Halliwell

The head of business events at London & Partners shares shifting tourism strategy to target repeat business

Pictured: Tracy Halliwell addresses the Site GB summit at the Four Seasons Hampshire

Tracy Halliwell, head of business events at London & Partners, has warned of the potential effects of Brexit on the industry.

Speaking at the inaugural Site GB incentive summit, Halliwell said that the current “uncertain climate” would have a knock-on effect on the meetings and events industry.

She said: “One of the things on my mind right now is this uncertain climate we’re living in. Can London still rely on the things we used to, to put us in a position as the most influential city in the world?

“We’re all still reeling from the effects of the Brexit shock. Countries like France and Germany have seen an opportunity for business. All of this will have a knock-on effect on the meetings and events industry. If the infrastructure isn’t there, it will affect us. We need to be aware competition is ramping up.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit result last year, London & Partners launched its London is Open campaign.

Halliwell said: “After Brexit we were prepared, we had developed the London is Open campaign. It wasn’t about being an intellectual capital, it was just saying 'we are open'. We didn’t want people to wake up and not want to go to London.”

However, now the capital is set to shift its tourism strategy to focus on repeat business.

She said: “If we can up repeat visits we can make a huge difference – how could we get them to come back? Our tourism strategy shifts more towards 'How can we get them to have a good time and talk about that when they get home'. We’ve done a lot of analysis on who we should be talking to. We’ve looked at GDPs, economic modelling and identified countries that would be good targets for London: USA, France and the Middle East.”

And she also revealed that the anti-tourism protests that have taken place on the continent over the summer have had an impact on the shaping of the strategy.

She said: “We are mindful that we have to be careful whatever tourism we bring in is good tourism. That means that is tourism that the indigenous population is happy to have. How can we help to disperse that so that different cultural institutions benefit? How can we spread out business so that it’s not just all coming in August? We need to be more audience-centric – now we’re asking them what they think and reacting accordingly.

“We need to realign what London means. We need to spend more time on building that brand. The product is important, but it’s also about London’s values.”

  • Anonymous user 11/09/2017

    Ridiculous strategy. Tourist boards need to look at incremental growth and stop trying to take credit for those visiting friends and relatives year after year.

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