VisitEngland should have a clearer picture by early 2012 how much funding can be allocated to business tourism development from its successful £19.8m funding win from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
Simon Gidman, head of business visits and events at VisitEngland, said the government was doing due diligence on the funding terms and conditions, with the process due to be formalised early in 2012. “Much of that figure will be allocated to a number of destinations, some of which will be dedicated to business tourism.”
The RGF win was seen as a boon by many in business events, following VisitBritain’s axing of business tourism from its remit due to budget constraints.
However, the £19.8m pot will also fund a wider three-year project, ‘Growing Tourism Locally’, inspiring Britons to take more short breaks and holidays at home and in doing so grow jobs in the tourism sector. Business tourism is one of the ‘thematic campaigns’ that will receive funding along with focuses on countryside, heritage and coastal tourism.
VisitEngland is working closely with private sector partners to match fund the grant received from the RGF to implement local campaigns - some of which will target business tourism. Destination partners already confirmed include Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Bath Tourism Plus, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, Cumbria Tourism and Visit York.
Gidman said in addition VisitEngland plans to attend EIBTM, IMEX and IMEX America with destination partners; hold more targeted business tourism sales missions working with UK Trade & Investment to build England’s reputation as a knowledge economy; plus increase its focus on the association market as well as continuing to support familiarisation and site visits.
“The aim is to increase business tourism by five per cent year-on-year for 10 years. We are seeing growth in business tourism. Obviously 2008/9 wasn’t a good year for anybody in the world, but we are seeing it coming back. In 2010 inbound business travellers were at 5.5 million, up from 5.2 million in 2009 and overnight domestic business tourism trips have seen a 10 per cent uplift from January to July this year.”