Additional £40m needed to save Scottish events industry, says advisory group

Scotland’s Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG) has warned that a failure to financially support a struggling industry would put the sector’s associated £6 billion visitor spend at risk in the future.

Therefore, the EIAG is seeking £40m in financial support from the Scottish government to protect the destination’s event reputation and secure a future for the industry. This fund would be in addition to the £31m in direct grant support received by the Scottish events industry from the Government since March 2020.

The call for further support comes after Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced the easing of restrictions from Monday 19 July.

Peter Duthie

While Scottish event professionals have welcomed the easing of restrictions, the chief executive of the Scottish Event Campus and chair of the EIAG, Peter Duthie pointed out that the timing means “only a small percentage of the sector will have the opportunity to generate some of the vital revenue required to survive before the peak season passes.”

“Having missed primary revenue opportunities and been drained of financial reserves, it is vital that Government provides additional industry support through to the end of 2022 that will give viable businesses the confidence to plan and deliver activity, which in turn will rebuild their financial base and return the wide range of economic, social and cultural benefits that events deliver for Scotland,” Duthie added.

The events industry’s restrictions include a limit of 2,000 seated attendees and 1,000 standing at outdoor events and 400 total attendees at indoor events remain in place.

The group recommended that the financial stimulus would be made available through various initiatives including the continuation of the Job Retention Scheme on a flexible basis from this September to March next year.

In the whitepaper, Event Sector Stimulus Initiatives, the EIAG detailed why the funding is needed and how it will help Scotland return to hosting meetings and events safely and sustainably.

Key recommendations in the Event Sector Stimulus Initiatives whitepaper include:

  • A further £40m in restart grant funding to be made available to the end of 2022.
  • Access to essential staff training opportunities to address emerging skills and employment gaps.
  • Continued development and consistent application of relevant event guidance.
  • National promotional campaign/s to provide public reassurance and support for organised events.
  • Access to affordable event cancellation insurance including pandemic cover.
  • Continuation of the Job Retention Scheme on a flexible basis from September to March 2022.
  • Continuation of the VAT reduction on relevant event costs/sales.
  • Continuation of non-domestic rates relief for event sector businesses.

“The sector has endured a devastating period of shutdown since March 2020. It has cost billions in lost revenue and many millions in hardship support, it has threatened the country’s entire event infrastructure, including Scotland’s viability and reputation as a world-class events destination,” EIAG sector stimulus sub-group leader and 21CC Group director, Geoff Crow said.

“The challenge is to safely recover a stronger and more sustainable sector that will return Scotland to its position as the Perfect Stage for events at the earliest opportunity.”

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