Exhibition News May 2019 - Page 29

Destination I f you mention Birmingham or the West Midlands in the world of exhibitions, one particular venue comes to mind: the NEC. The 182,000sqm venue is the biggest in the UK and has been a central part of the country’s thriving exhibition ecosystem since it first opened in 1976. The NEC Group was purchased by private equity giant Blackstone in 2018 for a reported £800m, which hints at further evolution on the horizon. But, as Kathryn James, managing director – conventions & exhibitions at the NEC Group, tells EN, the venue is just one element of a region that should be extremely attractive to organisers. “Birmingham stands proudly on the world-stage as a confident, ambitious and aspirational city, shown in our people, our culture and our ambitious personality to be a city always evolving and always striving to provide visitors with fresh and exciting experiences,” she explains. “Fuelled by the youngest population in Europe, with a rich history and diverse mix of nationalities, a world-class cultural scene, Michelin-starred dining and titles for having the highest quality of life and being the most entrepreneurial UK city outside of London, Birmingham is a dynamic destination that delivers.” Suzanna Reid Barreiro da Silva, commercial director at Unique Venues Birmingham, adds: “Birmingham is 130 years old and over the years has transformed into a highly diverse, multicultural city. It is one of the most vibrant cities in the country and is full of confidence, aspiration and spirit. With the wonderful unique venues that the city has to offer and with the multimillion investments underway across the city, Birmingham is a key destination for events.” The central position of Birmingham within the UK, and the easy connectivity, is another major pull. “We benefit massively from our venues being so easily accessible by air, rail and road,” continues James. “This means delegates can reach their destination with ease, while organisers can be confident that their events will grow in venues where anything is possible.” For both Birmingham and the West Midlands as a whole, there are exciting developments on the horizon, adds Nicola Hewitt, commercial director at the West Midlands Growth Company: “These are unprecedented times for the West Midlands, with domestic and international visitor numbers at record levels, and the region welcoming the highest proportion of business visits of all UK areas. “With Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and two new HS2 stations opening four years later, this is the West Midlands’ time to shine. We invite organisers to come and speak to us to find out how they can join forces with a confident, dynamic region, which hosts events like no other.” Having benefitted from arguably the biggest investment into its offering in Europe in recent years, Birmingham also boasts the most inward investment from overseas and UK businesses over any other UK region outside of central London. The city centre itself has benefitted from a development ‘Big City’ plan, that launched in 2012 and which, over two decades, will continue to act as an umbrella for over £5bn worth developments, which will drive more new business to the city.” EN The epicentre of UK events Birmingham and the West Midlands have a comprehensive event offering, and big changes on the horizon. EN take a trip up north to learn more The ICC in Birmingham, part of the NEC Group May — 29