Gordon Innes, former CEO of London & Partners:
The meetings and events industry makes a massive contribution to London’s economy and, in recent years, we have welcomed some of the world’s largest congresses and association events.
In recent days, some international event planners have asked me about the implications for their events of the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.
I want to send out a clear message that London is, and will always be, an outward looking, welcoming city; and that London & Partners, the city’s convention bureau, will work tirelessly to ensure that London remains the best destination for your event.
London’s economic success has been built on hundreds of years of outward trade and international engagement. Businesses, investors and skilled workers from every corner of the globe have come to London to make this great city their home.
Our Mayor Sadiq Khan recently launched a campaign #LondonIsOpen to tell the world that London will continue to warmly welcome visitors, businesses and events – and, in particular, our European friends.
Over the past five years, London & Partners’ convention bureau has prioritised attracting larger, city-wide conventions, meetings and events. As a result, some of the world’s largest events now take place in the capital, including over 32,700 participants at last year’s European Society of Cardiology Congress and an expected 40,000 at the first ever New Scientist Live this September. The convention bureau now has a pipeline that is the envy of cities around the world and we – backed by our mayor and national government – will continue to do all we can to continue to grow the contribution of meetings and events to the London economy.
Going forward, London will remain open, welcoming, secure, creative, exciting and full of possibilities. All of the things that made London special before the EU referendum remain true today: the city’s extraordinary history and heritage, its unmatched cultural offering, its cutting edge businesses and its prestigious venues and accommodation.
London will remain a global business capital. It will continue to be one of the best connected cities in the world, with six international airports and direct flights to over 380 international destinations.
It will also remain Europe’s leading business centre, particularly in the areas of life sciences, the creative industries, digital technologies, property, education and financial and professional services.
It will remain Europe’s leading centre for higher education, with five of the most renowned universities in the world (not counting neighbouring Oxford and Cambridge universities). As a result, event organisers will continue to have easy access to business leaders and academic experts for their events.
The city will continue to build more hotels and venues, with 16,000 new rooms to be added to the current 140,000 rooms by 2018.
In summary, London’s fundamental strengths will remain in place.
I am immensely proud to work for this great city and I stand fully alongside our mayor when he says that he is committed to working ever more closely to build stronger alliances across Europe and around the world.