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Weak pound helps to boost UK meetings industry

London skyline

London is the top destination for meetings and events in the EMEA region this year – helped by the reduction in the value of the pound.

The UK capital ranks ahead of Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris in the list of the five most popular cities in EMEA, according to Cvent data. London has become more attractive over the last year due to currency changes since the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016.

CWT Meetings & Events has estimated in a new report that the cost per attendee per day for meetings and events in the EMEA region have increased by an average of 4 per cent this year.

“In real terms meeting and events costs are going up incrementally, and this is expected to continue into 2018,” said CWT in its report on the global meetings sector.

“That said, Brexit could mark a major change for most of Europe. To date, the main impact has been to attract people to the UK due to the reduction in value of pound sterling.

“But it is too early to define what the ultimate impact will be – we’ll have a better idea by 2019 when the UK is scheduled to formally leave the EU.”

CWT also identifies several European cities that are growing in popularity for meetings including Bordeaux, Toulouse and Palma in Majorca.

“Italy and Portugal are becoming more popular with its reasonable pricing. Germany and the UK remain as popular as ever,” adds CWT. “Specific cities such as Berlin, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Vienna are attracting more interest.”

CWT said it expected the average cost of meetings and events across the world to continue going up during 2018.

“Costs are rising in key M&E markets, globally,” said Cindy Fisher, senior vice president and global head of CWT M&E. “With a 3.7 per cent increase in hotels and 3.5 per cent rise in airfares projected for the coming year, that trend is likely to continue.”

Spending on meetings and events in the UK has grown “strongly” this year, according to the HBAA Meetings Barometer with average spending per meeting up 31 per cent year-on-year to £2,133 for the first half of 2017.

Over the same period, the average number of delegates per meeting also rose by 12 per cent from 49 to 55 people. Despite this growth in attendee numbers, the average daily delegate rate fell by 1 per cent from £33.29 to £32.94.

London was the top city for spending with HBAA members accounting for £24.6 million or 35 per cent of the £70.6 million spent across the UK. Birmingham was a close second with £23.6 million followed by Glasgow in third place with £7.7 million.

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