Businesses explore ways to “get region flying” in post-Covid era

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK’s hospitality and leisure industries fell under the spotlight last week as business leaders came together for the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (BIBF) Business Breakfast webinar panel debate.

The theme of the event – hosted by Thrings in association with not-for-profit business support organisation Business West – was “Let’s get this region flying”.

Audience members logged on as a panel of high-profile speakers from across the South West took part in a passionate discussion on how the pandemic has affected – and continues to affect – the two industry sectors.

The panel included Margot Day, global director for risk and commercial at Buro Happold and member of the West of England Recovery Taskforce, member of West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board and recovery task force.

She was joined by Griff Holland, founder and owner of the Bristol-based Friska café chain, and Marti Burgess, owner of the Lakota nightclub and chair of independent advisory panel Bristol @ Night, which represents Bristol’s diverse night-time economy.

The debate was chaired by TV and radio presenter, Steve LeFevre.

Robert Barnes, commercial property partner at Thrings and BIBF committee member, said: “There are undoubtedly unprecedented challenges facing the regional business community. But it’s clear opportunities exist for those who react positively, embrace new and innovative ways of working, and take advantage of measures and support to help them hit the ground running in the post-Covid era.

“We are delighted to have welcomed so many businesses to take part in a vital discussion about ways to reinvigorate the South West economy in what are unusual times.”

Chris Allcock, chair of the BIBF, added: “It’s great to see so many businesses getting involved in the Fiesta Business Breakfast in this new digital guise.

“Obviously, it’s a shame we couldn’t do it in person as we have done for many years now. But regardless of how, it was important to maintain this engagement, especially given the current circumstances.”

The BIBF is Europe’s largest annual gathering of hot air balloons. In previous years the four-day event has attracted more than half a million visitors to the city.

While this year’s fiesta could not take place due to coronavirus-related restrictions, organisers staged a one-off flypast across Bristol on Monday 3 August and a subsequent virtual nightglow on Saturday 7 August.

Thrings has enjoyed a longstanding association with the BIBF. In 2018, the fiesta formalised the relationship with Thrings by making the firm the event’s official legal partner.

Robert Barnes continued: “The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Business Breakfast remains a key event in the region’s business calendar, and we look forward to welcoming guests again - in person - next year.”


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