Conference & Meetings World Issue 102 - Page 41

Subvention Business enabler, or bribery? WHAT ARE GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE WORLD DOING TO HARNESS THE ECONOMIC POWER OF THE MICE INDUSTRY – AND IS IT ALL LEGAL? he meetings industry is an increasingly competitive market. As the number of viable venues and destinations goes up, so too does the need to stand out from the crowd. Many governments around the world are beginning to recognise the power of MICE as an economic catalyst, bringing key industries and people together. But what are politicians and policy makers doing to help harness this power, and attract international meetings business? In this article, CMW takes a look at Subvention has a bit of a bad reputation. It has been compared to bribery by some industry professionals.” two very different methods. Firstly, we break down the United Kingdom’s recently announced Tourism Sector Deal, which proposes to maintain the country’s position as a top business tourism destination through a widespread overhaul of venues and infrastructure. Then, we examine the controversial practice of subvention – in which governments provide direct financial incentives to organisers to bring their events to a destination. Some call it bribery, while others say it is a legitimate sales tool that enables business. There is surely much in between. Down Funder The Australian Government recently outlined changes to its A$12m Business Events Bid Fund Programme, to make smaller, regional destinations also eligible for federal funding. Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham commented: “Since its launch last year, the fund has received 88 event bid applications, with 23 of these having been converted as new business, worth more than A$270m to the economy. “The changes we have made mean that the programme will now offer greater assistance to regional destinations, which often bid for smaller international events. We recognise these events provide far-reaching economic benefits to their local communities, by filling hotel rooms, restaurants and venues.” Kind of a big deal The UK’s Tourism Sector Deal was announced by former Prime Minister Theresa May in June, shortly before she resigned and was replaced by Boris Johnson. The Deal outlines a long-term plan to make the UK more attractive to international business, with a three-pronged course of action. Firstly, it will add an additional 130,000 hotel rooms across the UK by 2025, in order to meet rising demands. Secondly, it will support the creation of 10,000 tourism and hospitality apprenticeships, in order to ensure these facilities can be staffed. And lastly, it outlines the creation of a new Tourism Data Hub, which will allow venues and businesses to pool their digital resources, in order to better target overseas visitors. The UK Government also announced a competition for venues to apply for £250,000 of funding, in order to improve their broadband ISSUE 102 infrastructure. On top of this, VisitBritain’s Business Events Growth Programme received funding for another year. The Programme provides funding of up to £20,000 to organisers and venues in the UK, to help them support and bid for international business events. The UK’s first ever Tourism Sector Deal, Mrs May said, was designed to ensure that the UK continues to innovate, boost connectivity and economic productivity, and expand career pathways. “This deal recognises the important / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / 41