Region’s conference and events sector ‘worth £2.3bn’

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Event delegates spent £2.3bn in the region in 2019, a new report says.

Research carried out by RJS Associates for the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) shows that the region welcomed 10.1 million local, national and international delegates in 2019, the final year when business events were not disrupted or affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

An estimated 105,000 Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) events took place, contributing to 14.5 million delegate days spent in the West Midlands.

The region’s business tourism sector supports 65,000 full-time equivalent posts.

Findings from the report were unveiled at WMGC’s Future in the Making II partner event at the University of Birmingham’s new event space The Exchange.

The research will provide a baseline for the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), which has been developed to capitalise on the significant economic opportunities that the profile of the 2022 Commonwealth Games will bring.

Steve Knight, senior business tourism manager, WMGC, said: “Birmingham and the West Midlands is a modern, exciting and diverse destination, which remains a firm favourite among domestic and global organisers and delegates, thanks in no small part to its range of world-class event venues and fantastic connectivity.

“This new research highlights that the meetings and events industry remains a crucial sector, both pre- and post-pandemic, for the West Midlands and the people who live and work here.

“As we approach the 40th anniversary of our Convention Bureau and a huge year of opportunity thanks to major events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we are working hard to sell the region and its strengths to organisers across the world. We look forward to the spotlight being on the West Midlands and are eager to ensuring our visitors and delegates get the best – and safest – welcome.”

Kelly Haslehurst, marketing director, NEC Group Conventions & Exhibitions, added: “Since the NEC Group reopened its doors this summer, we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of people back to do business within meetings, conferencing and exhibitions. As a group of venues, we have a proven track record in supporting organisations as they host high-profile events. We are adaptable, as the pandemic has demonstrated, and we have the space and connectivity to attract and host large audiences.

“However, the promotion of Birmingham and the West Midlands as a destination for live events is vital. From our customer insight, we know the fantastic impression delegates are left with once they have visited the ICC in the city centre and our NEC Campus. With positive developments including HS2 and our newly launched NEC Masterplan, we will further boost the region’s MICE proposition.”

New accommodation venues set to boost the region’s offer in 2022 include the 100-room Hotel Indigo in Coventry.

To the west of the region, Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls will reopen to once again host leading musical and entertainment acts, business events and conferences.

The first phase of the Black Country Living Museum’s Forging Ahead project, telling the story of the 1940s, 50s and 60s in the region, opens in 2022, including new learning spaces and a visitor centre.

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