An Introduction To The UK Event Industry In Numbers

Want some fast facts about the events industry in the UK? No problem, we’ve created an infographic with all the key statistics about this booming and vibrant sector – find out everything you need to know in under a minute!

For further insight behind the statistics, and useful links to source materials, we’ve also included this below. Want more event industry insight? Ask those in the know over on the EventTribe forum.

UK Event Industry In Numbers


UK Event Industry Facts & Stats

What’s the UK events industry worth?

The events sector is worth £42.3 billion to the UK economy in terms of direct spend by event delegates, attendees and organisers, an 8% rise on the previous report. A substantially higher figure is achieved once the wider economic impacts (indirect and induced spend plus accompanying persons’ spend) are included. The spend by those accompanying attendees at business events is worth an additional £7.7 billion.

The Value of Britain’s Events Sector – direct spend by segment

Conferences and meetings – £19.9 billion
Exhibitions and trade fairs – £11.0 billion
Incentive travel and performance improvement – £1.2 billion
Corporate hospitality and corporate events – £1.2 billion
Outdoor events – £1.1 billion
Festivals and cultural events – £1.1 billion
Music events – £1.3 billion
Sporting events – £2.3 billion

How many people work in the UK events industry?

There are over 25,000 businesses in the sector including event organisers, venues, destination marketing organisations (DMOs), destination management companies (DMCs), exhibition contractors, event production companies, and a whole plethora of suppliers: transport operators, telecommunications and IT companies, interpreters and translators, speciality caterers, event insurance specialists, and many others.

The best estimates are that the sector sustains 570,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, mostly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The top 10 leading event agencies in the UK have a turnover of more than £3.5 billion, much of which is generated outside the UK.

How many business events are held in the UK each year?

There are over 1.3 million business events held in the UK annually. Just under £40 billion was spent by those attending these events, and the segment generates more than £20.6 billion in gross value added (GVA) and £58.4 billion in gross domestic product (GDP). The direct spending associated with UK meeting organisers is £24.7 billion. Of this spend, £6.4 billion is funded by registration fees paid by delegates and attendees.

Events by Segment

Outdoor events

More than 7,000 major outdoor events are held each year. Outdoor events cover a breadth of activity from major festivals, agricultural shows, sporting and charity events through to small village and craft events. Following the Olympics in 2012, the UK has established itself as a world leader in outdoor events, with many UK companies exporting their expertise. The sector has witnessed huge growth; between 2005 and 2009 there was an average annual increase of more than 1.64 million adults attending outdoor events in the UK.

Charity events

Since 2007, the number of fundraising events has increased by 700% and participant numbers have doubled. Event fundraising grew by 8% in 2012 (based on the number of JustGiving fundraising pages created). Running events remain the most popular kind of event, accounting for 77% of all event fundraising pages, however, trekking is the activity which raises the most funds – an average of £885 per event. Fundraising via triathlons grew by 21% between 2011 and 2013, raising an average of £740 per event. Cycling fundraising events have grown the most, up by 30% since 2011, raising an average of £610 per event.

A recent report showed a majority of organisations (84%) have seen income from events rising or staying the same. The biggest proportion saw income rising (56%) with 12% saying that income has risen significantly.

More great news for fundraising events, the report also revealed that 83% of fundraising event participants would consider taking part in another event for the same charity, while 92% would consider supporting the same charity again but in other ways.

Other types of fundraising events raise on average:

  • Parachuting/skydive – £465
  • Swimming – £390
  • Running – £360
  • Walks – £300

Exhibitions and trade fairs

Exhibitions play a vital role in the UK economy in generating exports. Many exhibitions held in the UK have established themselves as a strong base for international trade. UK exhibitions attract over 13 million visitors each year, generating £11.0 billion in spend. In 2010 over 265,000 exhibitors participated in events, 20% from outside the UK. In 2010 exhibitors spent £2.7 billion on goods and services to demonstrate at events.

The sector was worth an estimated £19.2 billion in venue and destination direct spend in 2015.

Music festivals and concerts

More than 10.4 million music tourists spend £2.3 billion in 2015. Around 41% of live music audiences are music tourists. Overseas music tourists spend on average £657 each while in the UK. It is estimated that around 24,251 full-time jobs are sustained by music tourism.

British music events were attended by a staggering 27.7 million people in 2015. With 15% of UK festival-goers spending over £250 while at the event.

Download our latest 2018 Event Industry Pulse Report here.


Eventbrite Pulse Report 2016 Eventbrite, April 2016
2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, American Express, October 2016
State of the Industry Report 2016 C&IT,  2016
2015/2016 Market Report UK Festival Awards & Conference, May 2016
‘Events are Great Britain’ The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), March 14
‘The Economic Impact of the UK Meeting & Event Industry’ Meetings Professionals International (MPI), July 2013
‘Event Fundraising Monitor’ JustGiving, October 2013
‘Wish You Were Here’ UK Music, 2016
Research collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising, everydayhero™, a Blackbaud, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLKB) Institute of Fundraising, November 2015
Events industry helps power UK economy Raconteur, May 2015

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