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January 11, 2007

West Midlands ?6 billion events industry revealed

Marketing Birmingham has published results of a KPMG economic study which reveals that the events industry in the West Midlands contributes more than £6 billion to the regional economy, supports more than 100,000 jobs and generates some £800 million of tax income for the Treasury.

Neil Rami, Marketing Birmingham chief executive, said: “This is the first time that economic research on our region’s events industry has been commissioned on such a large and comprehensive scale. Working jointly with Tourism West Midlands, we commissioned KPMG to examine conferences, exhibitions and events in the West Midlands with a breakdown specifically for Birmingham. This research validates what we already suspected about the value of the events industry, but these results are much stronger and healthier that we expected, with a 77% increase on total visitor spending in Birmingham since last recorded figures by the NEC Group in 1999 of £1.3 billion.”

Brian Summers, chair of Tourism West Midlands, said: “National tourism data traditionally count direct spend by overnight business visitors only. We always knew this only captured one part of the economic value of business tourism, and it is tremendously important and positive that we now have a robust assessment of the ‘real’ impact that our world-class conference and exhibition market has on our economy.”

The economic study reveals where visitors come from, how long they stay, what they spend their money on and how that income is dispersed within the city and West Midlands to the benefit of the local economy, suppliers and employees. Visitors to events and conferences in Birmingham  predominately spend in the leisure sector with £1 billion on accommodation, £424 million on food and drink, £307 million on shopping, £266 million on travel, £204 million on entertainment and £211 million on other expenditure.

The largest events industry employer in the region is the NEC Group. Chief executive Paul Thandi said: “Having the UK’s biggest and thriving events sector outside of London can only be capitalised upon. Last year more than 200,000 events attracted 14 million conference delegates and exhibition visitors to the West Midlands – 4.5 million of whom visited our venues. Much of Birmingham’s progress has been based on the events and hospitality sector, the NEC Group alone generates £1.3 billion of business and visitor spend in the city in any one year, and supports the equivalent of 22,000 full-time jobs.”

Meanwhile, Ian Taylor, commercial director, Marketing Birmingham, was keen to draw attention to the initiatives that have encouraged the city’s thriving events industry. “Marketing Birmingham will continue to innovate with customer focused schemes, like our award-winning Events Support Package, to attract high profile, profitable events to the city,” he said. “We work with venue partners on bids, often years in advance, competing on a global scale to attract the events that can add real value to the city’s reputation and bottom line. The recent confirmation that Birmingham City Council is increasing the level of our annual funding is an additional boost, to ensure that we can maintain and grow our share of the major event and conference market.”

Neil Rami concluded: “The future challenge faced by Marketing Birmingham and our partner  agencies, is to develop and sustain the region’s events industry and protect these jobs which is why we have commissioned a further report by KPMG. This review will have a national focus analysing some of the critical success factors, such as national strategy and government support. It will be completed early next year.”

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