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The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) has asked Business Secretary Vince Cable for backing for a 'Special Events Visa' at a meeting in London on 9th April.
The meeting, hosted by the Lord Mayor Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE and attended by Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and around 300 leading business industry professionals, heard Cable and Kenny make speeches and field questions about trade links between the UK and Ireland.
BVEP Vice-Chair Richard Foulkes asked Cable, on behalf of the UK events industry, to back the introduction of a Special Events Visa in order to ease inbound overseas trade visits to the UK.
Foulkes asked: “Both Ireland and the United Kingdom have a robust and growing business tourism and events sector focussing on events conferences and trade shows. Does the business secretary support a more collaborative approach between Ireland and the UK including a special event visa to better leverage joint activity thereby mutually increasing overseas trade visitors to events, conferences and trade shows and bring associated economic benefits?”
The Business Secretary responded by saying both countries “lose out” when industries work separately and that UK and Irish business links were massively important.
Richard Foulkes added: “The business events community in the UK is asking the Home Office to introduce a special events visa to help process business travellers to UK business events. It is hoped the Business Secretary will do everything to persuade the Home Office of the benefits of this to the UK economy and consider a scheme where there can be reciprocal and joint arrangements between Ireland and the UK on welcoming overseas trade visitors to both countries.
“With support from the minister and his positive response, the industry continues to head in the right direction - but it remains important for the events industry to be recognised by government as a major contributor to economic growth in the UK.”
Recently Tourism Ireland joined the BVEP through its business events marketing agency Meet in Ireland.