AEO: “UK exhibitions are safe, secure and open for business”

Chris Skeith OBE, chief executive of the Association of Event Organisers, says this week’s relaxation of Covid-19 regulations and easing of travel restrictions pave the way for a resurgence in the UK exhibition sector. 


As ICE London prepares to make its return to ExCeL London from 12-14 April, the UK government is rolling back measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

From 27 January, the Plan B measures implemented to slow the spread of the Omicron variant were removed, meaning events and venues are no longer legally required to check visitors’ Covid pass. Face coverings and social distancing are no longer required by law in any setting.

And from Friday (11 February) this week, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to undergo testing upon arrival in the country.

“Thanks to the success of the vaccination programme the UK is leading the world in terms of reopening, and is very much open for business,” Skeith said.


“Organisers continue to use the All Secure Guidelines, previously approved by government officials, which is a dynamic risk assessed approach to create safe environments for customers.”

Skeith, who represents a membership that stages more than 1,700 trade and consumer events worldwide, added that venue research suggested customers feel safe and secure, especially as initiatives such as improved ventilation and enhanced cleaning are now standard practice.

“Feedback received from members who have run events indicate a great deal of pent-up demand from buyers, and whilst shows are understandably smaller than they were pre pandemic the satisfaction scores and re-booking rates are in many cases higher than they were prior to March 2020,” Skeith added.

Clarion Gaming managing director Stuart Hunter said those planning to attend ICE London should be encouraged and reassured that so many shows are already running safely and effectively across the country.

“With AEO research confirming that nearly seven out of ten buyers (69%) will recommend brands that they have engaged with at events there’s no doubt that the return of in-person represents a major opportunity for businesses and industries to bounce-back after a torrid two-years.”

More than 450 brands are scheduled to exhibit at this year’s rescheduled event, with Clarion Gaming research showing there was significant appetite among buyers to get back to the ExCeL.

Of those attending the show in April, 77% were either final decision makers or had a say in purchasing decisions for their business, Explori research shows. The majority of these attendees view ICE as an important event to attend, and 67% of those polled are there to seek out new suppliers or partners.

ICE week 2022 kicks off from 11 April with the start of the ICE VOX conference programme, running until 13 April, with the exhibition open from 12 to 14 April.

This year’s iGB Affiliate London, which has already seen exhibitor numbers surpass the 2020 edition, will run from 13 to 14 April, also at the ExCeL.