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Events worth £18 billion to UK pre-Covid, UKCAMS reveals

Meetings and events contributed almost £18 billion to the UK economy in 2019, according to the 27th annual UK Conference and Meeting Survey (UKCAMS).

The report shows the state of events pre-Covid, identifying trends in UK conferences and meetings as well as describing the key dimensions and characteristics of the sector. It also confirms that, in 2019, the industry was extremely robust and dynamic, making a substantial contribution (£17.6 billion) to the UK economy.

UKCAMS has a specific focus on the value and volume of the market and the performance of meeting venues. In 2019 there was an estimated £17.6 billion of direct expenditure generated by conference and meeting delegates in venues and in wider destination spend, broadly similar to the total of £18.3 billion in 2018.

There were an estimated 1.40 million conferences and meetings in the UK in 2019, above the average for the past decade (1.34 million), but representing a small reduction on the overall total for 2018. There was an average of 405 conferences and meetings per venue in 2019, with the majority (59 per cent) being held in hotels, a further 18 per cent in conference/training centres and 18 per cent in unusual/multi-purpose venues.

Levels of capital investment by venues remained strong with 81 per cent of venues reporting that they had invested in their property in 2019, with 30 per cent investing over £100,000.

“The UKCAMS research has been undertaken annually since 1993. However, at no time in that period have we faced the huge challenges in carrying out the research that we have seen in 2020, with many venues closed over an extended period, staff furloughed or made redundant, and the very existence of the conference and business events sector itself under severe threat,” said Tony Rogers on behalf of the UKCAMS research team. “We believe that UKCAMS provides vitally important market intelligence for our industry, as well as for government and for businesses. We hope that the 2020 UKCAMS report will play a significant part in the industry’s future recovery.”

The 2021 UKCAMS research programme will quantify the challenge the sector faces in its recovery and monitor the progress it is making towards a successful recovery.

The 2020 UKCAMS research was sponsored by VisitBritain with support from venuedirectory.com.

The research was carried out by Tony Rogers of Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services and Richard Smith of RJS Associates.

Copies of the full UKCAMS 2020 report are available priced £180 + VAT. Visit http://www.ukcams.org.uk to download an order form.