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UK meeting industry delivers £58.4 billion to the UK’s GDP

Meeting organisers staged on average 147 events in the year and received £11 billion from hosting meetings in the UK and £1.4 billion from hosting meetings outside the UK. The meeting industry is rated 17th among more than 100 industries in the UK, generating more than £20.6 billion in GVA and £58.4 billion in GDP in 2011.

UK meeting industry generates 3x more GDP than agriculture and the equivalent of 1 million full-time jobs according to study commissioned by the MPI Foundation.

Research announced by the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation, and undertaken by the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality (ICRETH) from Leeds Metropolitan University has revealed that:

  • The UK meeting industry delivers £58.4 billion to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) – making a contribution three times greater than agriculture to the country’s economy.
  • The meeting industry is the UK’s 16th largest employer with more than 515,000 individuals directly employed – double that of the telecoms industry.
  • Including indirect employment, the meeting industry generates more than 1 million full-time equivalent jobs.
  • Meetings made a direct gross value added (GVA) contribution of £20.6 billion – more than legal services, accountancy or broadcasting.
  • The meeting industry contributed £21.1 billion in taxes to the economy.
  • When combined, the space occupied by the 10,000 venues in the UK is the equivalent of 6,000 football pitches and capable of seating 13.5% of the population at any one time.

The groundbreaking UK Economic Impact Study (UKEIS) was revealed at The Meetings Show UK. Directed by Dr. ShiNa Li, the ICRETH research team used the UN World Tourism Organisation methodology for the study.

This methodology is a globally accepted model that has already been utilised to conduct the same research in Canada, the United States, Australia, Mexico and Denmark.  A direct comparison shows that as a percentage of GDP, the meeting industry has a more significant economic impact in the UK than in the US, Canada and Mexico.

ICRETH, project director, Dr ShiNa Li commented, “The research was undertaken to firmly establish the size and impact of meetings in the UK, with a particular focus on GVA, GDP, employment and taxes. It is considered by many to be the most important research ever undertaken by the meeting industry as it will allow the sector to shape policy and lobby at the highest levels moving forward. The results signify a call to action for the industry and present the opportunity to consider the question ‘What now?’ We have created this incredibly powerful data that clearly defines the meeting industry’s credibility, but it needs to be used effectively as a tool for the benefit of all.”

MPI president and chief executive officer, Paul Van Deventer said, “The UKEIS results are extremely positive and clearly demonstrate that the meeting industry delivers significant value to the UK economy. At Meeting Professionals International (MPI), we believe this research provides an invaluable tool for professionals in our industry to use to enhance the perception of the meeting industry in the UK – similar to how comparable studies have been utilized in the U.S. and other countries. The success of this research provides a benchmark and example for other meeting professionals around the world to discover the value of the industry in their own country.”

Industry veteran Paul Kennedy MBE, director and owner of Kennedy Integrated Solutions added, “Many people have been instrumental in bringing about this research – from the pioneering organisations (ICCA, MPI Foundation and Reed Travel Exhibitions) that worked for several years with the UNWTO to create a credible framework for this study, to the current investors, researchers and partners. The results are incredibly positive, showing the meeting industry for what it is – bigger than agriculture, employing more than telecoms, having a greater contribution than legal or accounting. These are all significant industries with loud voices that have the ears of government and business leaders. It is time to take our place amongst them and as an industry determine a coherent and attainable call to action.”

UKEIS Headline Results:

  • More than 1.3 million meetings were held in the UK in 2011 in more than 10,000 venues.
  • Attendees spent just under £40 billion attending UK meetings.
  • Most meetings took place in London, the South East and the West Midlands.
  • After England, Scotland took the lead in hosting the largest number of meetings.
  • Whilst large hotels hosted most meetings, unusual and unique venues proved popular for conference organisers, and small hotels more popular for incentive events.
  • Corporate clients hosted the vast majority of events, with many (more than 60%) favouring smaller meetings of less than 100 people.
  • Meeting organisers staged on average 147 events in the year and received £11 billion from hosting meetings in the UK and £1.4 billion from hosting meetings outside the UK.
  • The meeting industry is rated 17th among more than 100 industries in the UK, generating more than £20.6 billion in GVA and £58.4 billion in GDP in 2011.
  • The total GDP generated by meetings accounts for about 2.9% of the UK GDP.
  • The meeting industry is a significant employer; the sector generated and supported more than 1 million full-time equivalent jobs across a wide range of industries.
  • The meeting industry contributed more than £21 billion to tax revenues.

Cities and Regions
The UKEIS is the first MPI Foundation-commissioned study to breakdown data at a sub-national level. The study has produced profile and economic impact data at home country and regional levels as well as in five cities, namely, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Liverpool.

GVA by Country

  • England: £15.5 billion
  • Scotland: £1.9 billion
  • Wales: £908 million
  • Northern Ireland: £268 million

GVA by City

  • London: £5.6 billion
  • Edinburgh: £601 million
  • Cardiff: £587 million
  • Liverpool: £289 million
  • Belfast: £128 million

The UKEIS was made possible thanks to generous investments to the MPI Foundation from leading companies and organisations including: Barbican, Conde Nast, ExCel London, IMEX Group, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), International Confex, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), London & Partners, Meetings & Incentive Travel, Q Hotels, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Site International Foundation, The Meetings Show UK, Visit Scotland, and Visit Wales.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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