Andrew Denton addresses the OIA gathering in Cheshire. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Andrew Denton addresses the OIA gathering in Cheshire. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The umbrella body for the outdoors industry said it is needs to work with government departments to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the industry.

Attendance at the Outdoor Industries Association annual conference was severely curtailed as many delegates chose or were ordered not to attend.

Fewer than 80 of the 170 representatives who had booked for the Cheshire meeting made it to the conference.

An association spokesperson said: “More than ever, the industry needs the OIA to work with government departments to lobby for the reduction of the impact of Covid-19 in the outdoors industry.

“The OIA is planning to work closely with associations such as National Trust, The Camping & Caravanning Club, UK Active, YHA and the Tourism Alliance to put together a combined statement, following government guidelines to provide encouragement for people to get outside safely, and that participation and exercise in the outdoors, as long as social distancing rules are observed, is the best recipe for stress relief and good mental health and that this advice should be encouraged in these difficult times.”

OIA chief executive Andrew Denton said: “This will go down in history as one of the most challenging OIA conferences ever with 170 delegates initially registering to just under 80 attendees and a quick change to the agenda to adapt to the changing situation in hand.

“Feedback has been very positive from all delegates and I am currently working 24/7 with over 20 organisations to have a statement ready to encourage people to enjoy safely the outdoors, thus minimising the impact of coronavirus to our industry.

“I usually get asked why would I join the OIA. What does the OIA do for me? I wasn’t asked this once this year.

“There was a great sense of togetherness in the room that was great to see. I also wanted to thank, and I have done with many by phone or e-mail, all the delegates that registered but did not attend, for their understanding in this impossible situation that we found ourselves.

“We will keep the industry updated in the coming weeks on Covid-19 advice, grants and measures that can help get the outdoor industry through this temporary crisis.”

  • Bob Smith is a member of the OIA

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