The Liverpool City Region would be “daft” not to continue to host the International Business Festival according to the chief executive of Downtown in Business Frank McKenna.
The biennial festival has been hosted in the city since 2014 but following this years’ three-week event political leaders have expressed doubts over whether to continue to support the planned 2020 festival.
The Liverpool business leader said:
“The Festival has not been an unprecedented success, but it has had a positive impact for the city, and its image as a business-friendly location.
“It is a challenging event to host. We are having to create a programme that attracts an international audience, investors and entrepreneurs from across the UK, and cater for the regions business community too.
“That is no easy task, and I am sure the event organisers would acknowledge that over the course of the last festival, not enough was done to engage with Merseyside’s businesses.
“Nevertheless, we should learn from that mistake, and correct it for the 2020 event. Throwing such a fantastic brand and opportunity away would be a travesty. “
“Other cities Downtown operates in would be delighted to get their hands on the Festival. As Max Steinberg said when Liverpool won the right to organise the IBF, Liverpool has established itself as a genuine player in the visitor economy following its success as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. This Festival gives the city the opportunity to sell itself as a capital for Commerce too.”
Results from the 2016 Festival show that £87m of export sales were generated, £145m of domestic sales, with 2,000 jobs be created.
The Downtown boss concluded:
“The evidence suggests that in terms of deals done and deals won, the IBF has done its job. More importantly though, the festival puts the region on the international business map. With Brexit on the horizon, surely that is no bad thing.
“Liverpool has, with some justification, complained about being overlooked for the Commonwealth Games and the Channel Four relocation. It would be daft if we were to hand back a prize we have won, when we have done the spade work in getting the brand known. The festival in 2020 needs to be tweaked – not abandoned.”