Coventry and Warwickshire’s events and exhibition industry is facing a disaster without a clear roadmap to reopening, industry experts have warned.
The warning was sounded at a virtual roundtable meeting with members of the local Chamber of Commerce and Zarah Sultana, the MP for Coventry South.
Representatives from 16 businesses attended, explaining how they felt they had been neglected and pushed to the back of the queue, with no clear timetable for when events and exhibitions may begin to take place again.
Questions were raised as to why similar sectors had been permitted to open up over the summer, while events and exhibitions companies had to remain shut, despite several national pilots proving effective in keeping such events COVID-safe.
Among the other issues raised were the need for a tailored financial package that included more grants, rather than loans, an extended business rates holiday beyond the current financial year and for the VAT reduction to be extended for the foreseeable future.
Sean Rose, from the Chamber of Commerce, stressed the need for clarity saying: “Our members want to know the Government understands their situation.
“This is a sector of the economy that feels it can play a major role in post-Covid-19 recovery, but one that is left scratching its head as to what their future looks like.”
In 2018 alone, sector was reported to be worth more than £42 billion, being a catalyst for much oversees investment into the UK.
After hearing the concerns of Coventry businesses, Zarah Sultana said: “It’s an understatement to say this sector has missed out on the support that’s been available so far. There is clearly a need for a bespoke financial package from the Chancellor.
“But more importantly they need a reopening date that they can work with. Exhibitions and events cannot simply open up overnight, businesses need a clear timescale to work to. At the moment they don’t have that.”