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April 16, 2008

T5 chaos undermines UK offer

The newly opened £4.3 billion Terminal 5 at the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, has got off to a standstill, propagated by system failure and exacerbated by poor communications.

What a pre-amble to the excitement surrounding ExCeL and Visit London`s hosting of MPI’s European Event Conference in just three weeks’ time, when international meeting planners converge for the global association`s ‘Eurothrash’.

The plight of business and leisure travellers caught in the eye of the UK’s flagship airport’s debacle is a national disgrace, but the portents for UK plc are not good. Bad news travels faster than most T5 visitors have done this week and news of Britain’s inability to match German and Far Eastern route management will inevitably counter the efforts of Visit Britain to stem the falling tide of the UK’s share of the global meetings market, particularly among the bedrock of MPI’s membership in North America, accounting for 20% of inbound business meetings and events to the UK.


Frazer: Another nail in the coffin for large
corporate events considering London as a suitable venue


Although Visit London and the Events Industry Alliance remained tight lipped on the subject, for fear of spreading further negative publicity, agencies that had been hit where their clients are would not be silenced.

"This week's appalling opening of Terminal 5 is yet another nail in the coffin for large corporate events considering London as a suitable venue,” said Graham Frazer, deputy chairman of Maritz, part of the Grass Roots Group. “For many years our clients have been put off by a combination of high hotel costs, traffic congestion, and the lack of world class conference facilities.

“Nevertheless,” he continued, “many of them have still come to London because it is one of the most interesting and vibrant cities on earth. However, given this recent combination of incompetence, poor planning and arrogant complacency, I cannot see many others rushing to put themselves at risk when there are so many attractive and workable alternatives elsewhere.”

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