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UFI FOCUSwww.exhibition-world.net Issue 2 | 201217epending on where you are in the world, your attitude to the exhibition industry and government is going to vary a lot. In some places, very few in fact, it's 'please leave us alone and let us get on with our business'. In many other places, the government is landlord, landowner and sometimes a signifi cant contributor to events as sponsor. Quite often, the industry and government are one and the same where municipal administrations play a dominant role in the exhibitions business. It is no coincidence then that the gallery of former UFI presidents which lines the corridor of our headquarters in Paris is dominated from the early days by mayors of the big European trade fair cities. Those are the black and white pictures. Once we moved into the colour era, it all became rather more commercial and business-focused. But there is no escaping the fact that government plays an important role in our business.That raises important questions about who we should be talking to in government, what our messages might be and how we should most effectively communicate them. We have been pretty good at sending mixed messages. At one recent industry conference, a government representative was lambasted for failing to bring to the table a national policy for supporting exhibitions at the same time as being told the industry was pretty good at looking after and regulating itself.As well as direct links to ownership and operations of venues and events, there are a number of policy issues important to our industry. Tax is a hardy perennial, often dull but rarely unimportant. The messy implementation of new VAT (Value THE BUSINESS OF POLITICSUFI MD PAUL WOODWARD ON THE DISCORD ENDEMIC IN PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPSAdded Tax) rules across the EU last year is a good case in point and an important issue on which the UFI team had to get involved fi rstly to achieve some clarity about what was going on, and secondly to communicate in Brussels just how hard it was hitting our cross-border, multi-national industry.Ease of travel and visa issues are another key topic. Exhibitors, visitors and organisers from countries across the Middle East, Africa, the Indian sub-continent and South America all struggle to do their normal, legitimate business in the face of uncertain, expensive and clunky visa regulations.In many cases, the best channel for the industry's messages is a national association. There are, though, occasions when a trans-national voice is needed, when issues affect companies from across a number of countries. UFI's work in Brussels on the VAT issues is a good case in point, as is the lobbying we have been doing with federal and state governments in India on the need for larger modern venues in some of the key cities. We have been busy beefi ng up our capacity to take on this mission when needed, but there is much work to be done on developing consistent and effective messages. We are doing better as an industry at pulling together data on how we're operating at a regional and global level. We need to get better at telling our story to politicians and government offi cials. They're interested in the economic impact we have on the regions in which we work, on the jobs we generate and how we can boost the industries served by our events. A lot of good work has already been done in this area and at UFI we hope to be able to knit together some of that work so that we can make a compelling case for why we're important and, when we have an issue to discuss, why we should be listened to. THERE ARE OCCASIONS WHEN A TRANS-NATIONAL VOICE IS NEEDEDPAUL WOODWARDMD, UFI