The business events industry has won the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism prize in VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence 2020.
For the first time, the awards took place online, with the national advisory body’s chair, and former chair of the Events Industry Board, Nick de Bois, announcing the winners.
The sector was praised for its contribution in supporting the public and National Health Service in helping to set up the five Nightingale hospitals across England.
In an online address, de Bois said: “This is a special award presented every year to a person, body or an institution that has contributed something special or unique to tourism in England.
“Previous recipients have included the great English pub, the Harry Potter films, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, travel agents, the chefs of England, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. And, of course, last year’s winners: England’s National Parks.
“This year I am delighted to announce that we have chosen to give the award to the business events industry, for England’s Nightingale hospitals.”
De Bois added: “The efforts of business events venues and the broad range of suppliers, from those providing the materials to logistics, have been pivotal in supporting the NHS response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Five exhibition and conference venues across the country stepped up to provide capacity for 2,300 beds with a potential maximum of over 7,000 beds if needed. These were ExCeL London, the first hospital which was constructed in just nine days, the NEC in Birmingham, Manchester Central, Harrogate Convention Centre and the exhibition and conference centre at the University of West England in Bristol.
“Many congratulations to all those involved; you played a critical role in supporting the British people, the NHS, and the government during these unprecedented times. This is a very well-deserved award.”
Business events may now once more operate to Covid secure standards for up to a maximum of 30 people, with the full unlocking of the events industry conditionally slated for 1 October, subject to the virus being under control.
Organisers and venues will need to meet the Government-approved All Secure Standard.
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston paid homage to the wider tourism sector, saying: “Not only does our tourism industry offer incredible experiences to those who holiday here, it supports millions of jobs up and down the country. I’m delighted to see so many great establishments, from major Lincolnshire attractions to boutique Yorkshire hotels, being celebrated.”