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February 23, 2009

Campaign to protect UK meetings industry from new travel operators legislation

Events industry association Eventia is spearheading a campaign, on behalf of the events sector, to minimise the negative impacts of proposed changes to legislation covering the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme (TOMS).

Over the past eight months, the Government has been consulting with the travel and tourism industries about plans by the European Commission to harmonise the application of TOMS between member states, and some changes are likely to take effect from 1 January 2010.

These could have an impact on all companies that supply travel services to business customers. In particular, the end of the TOMS opt-out could have profound effects on the business model and competitiveness of agencies managing events in the UK. The loss of the opt-in for wholesalers may have an effect on some destination management companies (DMCs).

Eventia is consulting urgently on the scale and implications of the proposed TOMS changes with its members, using as the basis a briefing paper prepared by VAT expert David Bennett of Saffery Champness, in conjunction with the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). David spoke at an Eventia briefing meeting on this issue in January.

“It is vital that event agencies and DMCs, in particular, provide us with solid factual information on how the proposed changes might impact their businesses in order to inform and strengthen our feedback to Government,” said Brian Kirsch, chair of Eventia’s Regulation Committee.

Meanwhile, Eventia chief executive Izania Downie, stressed the need for the events industry to act together, saying: “Lobbying and representation are fundamental to Eventia’s remit and we recognise that we have a crucial role to play in speaking with a cohesive and united voice to government on behalf of our members. Those agencies and suppliers that are not members are, therefore, excluded from important industry intelligence and campaign initiatives.

“The Government has repeatedly made it clear that it wants to engage with a joined-up industry. I would urge any agencies and suppliers not in membership of Eventia to come on board, get involved, make your contribution and get your voice heard!”

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