This year’s Britain and Ireland Marketplace will take place online early next year, organisers have confirmed.
Etoa, the European Tourism Association, and UKinbound will host the first online BIM on Tuesday 26 January.
The event brings together British and Irish suppliers with the main product buyers from across the world. Last year’s event facilitated more than 4,000 appointments.
Tom Jenkins, Etoa chief executive, said 2020 had seen a near total disappearance of incoming visitors.
“Many of our members have seen a falls of 90% in terms of their turnover. Incoming tourism was set to deliver £30 billion of export sales for the UK in 2020, and roughly £6 billion to Ireland. This is roughly 30 times the total earned by the fishing industry, and its disappearance has not just affected our members, but it has left a gaping hole in the service economies of both countries.”
Jenkins said demand remained “robust” despite the pandemic.
“All the evidence we have points to visitors having postponed their trips until the moment they feel it is safe to travel. Amongst our members we have reports of 50% of bookings cancelled in 2020 already rescheduled for 2021. There is also the prospect of a “near normal” season in 2022, for which plans have to be laid now.”
The event will be sponsored by Tourism Ireland and Visit Scotland, with “hundreds of delegates” set to attend.
Joss Croft, UKinbound chief executive, added: “While the UK government continues to exclude tour operators and Destination Management Companies from the support packages offered to other parts of leisure and hospitality, it will be up to the industry to help itself.
“BIM is an ideal way for tourism businesses to get ready for when travel returns and maximise the evident demand for 2021 and 2022.”