The government has unveiled a new competition that will encourage conference centres throughout the UK to apply for a slice of new funding to upgrade their broadband connectivity to full fibre.
There will be £250,000 available for the successful bidders, which will enable them to deploy fibre-to-the-premises technology to secure faster speeds and greater reliability.
Such solutions will be especially valuable for locations such as hotels and other events centres, as these will be expected to support large numbers of users simultaneously when events are taking place. Without the speed and bandwidth offered by full fibre, attendees could be left struggling with inadequate connectivity at busy times.
In order to be eligible, venues must have capacity for at least 400 delegates and have hosted at least one event in the last year where a third of attendees were from outside the UK.
The competition is part of the government’s Tourism Sector Deal and is aiming to boost the number of visitors to the UK to support the business events sector, which is said to be worth more than £32 billion a year.
Introducing the initiative, tourism minister Rebecca Pow said the government is looking to make the UK the world's "biggest and best" destination for international business events, which will help grow the nation's economy and encourage trade and investment.
"Ensuring our conference facilities can deliver the connectivity and facilities organisers want and need is crucial to help achieve this and there is a great deal of scope to expand this area," she continued.
In 2017, business travellers made up almost a quarter of the 38 million visitors to the UK, while the UK hosted 592 international association meetings.
The move was also welcomed by Michael Hirst, chair of the Events Industry Board, who said: "This is a strong recognition of the importance of helping to support the growth of first-class infrastructure in Britain’s large range of diverse world-class business event facilities. It will help immensely in continuing to present Britain as a leading global destination for business events."