UK sees 126,000 event jobs vanish with more losses expected

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has seen 126,000 people in the UK events industry lose their jobs, according to Meetings Industry Association (MIA).

Among the 126,000 total job losses to date, catering, front-of-house and events/account managers are among the roles most severely affected.

The latest data showed one in three of 197 responding venues (34%) report they have lost between £1,000,000 and £5,000,000 as a result of Covid-19, with the average venue reporting £2,398,600 in lost business.

Almost half (47%) of the venues have had to reduce, or request, more flexible terms with their suppliers, while 7% are having to already source new ones because their regular pre-Covid-19 suppliers are no longer in operation.

“Both short- and long-term business enquiries continue to remain well below pre-Covid levels,” said Jane Longhurst, MIA’s chief executive.

“With quarantine measures in place that are subject to continual change, it is unsurprising that very few international enquiries are being reported.”

The majority of venues in the UK are currently remain closed, with most planning to reopen in late in the third quarter, while 15% are opting to wait until 2021.

“To ensure the sector is able to survive and facilitate the £165 billion of trade that takes place through business events, we need further support,” Longhurst said.

“As the furlough scheme comes to an end before many venues are able to reopen in October, and the sector estimates that it could take at least 12-18 months, if not longer, for it to recover to pre-Covid levels, government intervention is urgently required.”

Longhurst said the job losses are expected to continue without an extension or a bespoke furlough scheme carrying through into 2021, with 266,000 job losses forecast.

“With government intervention, including the extension of the furlough scheme and other support, 75% of venues indicate that this figure would be drastically reduced, with 140,000 jobs across the industry expected to be saved,” she said.

“The government therefore has a simple choice, to save jobs by offering an extension, or fund those individuals through benefits.”