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Why our industry "can't sit back and wait after vote"

Jane Longhurst, CEO of the Meetings Industry Association calls for sector to embrace decision

Pictured: Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia)

The events sector must embrace the UK’s decision to leave the European Union as ‘business will not just flood in’, says the Meetings Industry Association.

A vote to leave the EU means the UK’s meetings industry can ‘flex its creative edge’ to encourage inbound business tourism and adjust business models to encourage stability.

Meetings Industry Association (mia) CEO Jane Longhurst said: “We need to embrace the referendum result. We can’t sit back and rest on our laurels and expect consumer confidence to return and business to just flood in – particularly from outside the European Union. Instead, organisations need to re-evaluate their business plans and develop creative ways to actively encourage cross-border relations and inbound tourism from our European counterparts.”

Longhurst also encouraged businesses in the sector to review their recruitment processes and staffing structures as well as examine ways to nurture talent internally, rather than hospitality and events venues relying on EU immigrant labour.

"Naturally there are initial concerns regarding the impact on staff and recruitment as we are heavily reliant on Europe for hospitality staff. Longer-term we need to start addressing the reasons why it is so hard to recruit UK nationals into the industry,” said Longhurst.

Development board member Gywneth Gibbons, who is managing director of RGA UK, added: “Wages, training and working conditions need to be improved and an on-going effort must be made to better train our young people in language and service skills to work in the demanding international market.”

Jackson Clark, a member of the mia development board and managing director of Patch Media, said: “Now we know we're leaving the EU it's time to flex to the world our creative edge and uniqueness as a nation like we've never flexed before.”

There could even be a short-term peak in event business, argues Robin Purslow, director of event production company Eclipse.

“In the short-term I think there could possibly be a spike in meeting and events business as think tanks and large corporates meet and look to communicate what the result means,” he added. “Longer-term the industry should look to adjust their respective business models to allow for the outcome.”

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