Adelaide venues warn ‘Australia is at a competitive disadvantage’ as vaccine rollout lags

The Adelaide Venue Management Corporation (AVM) has delivered a bleak assessment for the future of South Australia’s events, saying the situation has deteriorated due to Australia’s slow vaccination program.

The state government event venue management company operates the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium.

It in its latest report to government as revealed by InDaily, the AVM said that while the pandemic has unsurprisingly “decimated” its revenue stream due to ongoing restrictions and border closures, the future is not looking much brighter.

“AVM’s current situation is direr than at any time since the initial COVID-19 outbreak,” wrote AVM chair Bill Spurr.

“Prior to the Delta Strain, AVM was having considerable success in convincing its clients to postpone events rather than cancel outright.

“However, as we move into 2021-22, we’ve witnessed that clients are now much more inclined to cancel, as many have become increasingly disillusioned and uncertain about when they’ll be able to plan their events with greater certainty.”

Spurr said that up until the start of the year Australia’s suppression strategy had delivered a competitive advantage over global rivals who viewed the country as “a safe and desirable event destination”.

“However, vaccination rates in many OECD countries have since reached much higher levels than here in Australia, resulting in many of these countries opening their borders to international visitors and staging events at pre-COVID capacities, without major restrictions,” he wrote.

“Whilst these countries are coming out of lockdown, Australia is imposing harsher restrictions on its venue operators and its people than at any time previously.

“Event organisers are now showing a strong preference for destinations with high rates of vaccination as opposed to low rates of infection.

“Consequently, Australia is at a competitive disadvantage for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.”

The three venues combined recorded an 82.5 per cent plunge in pre-Covid events revenue, while professional sporting and local market events revenue was down 52.4 per cent. But despite the fall in income the company still managed to deliver a $1.6 million dividend to the state government last financial year.

But Spurr warned that any recovery would be slow, taking “some years” to see a return of pre-Covid revenue levels.

“AVM sees limited opportunities for tangible recovery until the vaccination program has been successfully rolled-out within Australia, and international travel returns to near pre-COVID levels,” he said

“When that position is reached, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre is expected to recover relatively quickly, whilst the Adelaide Convention Centre will experience a more gradual recovery due to the longer booking lead times of conventions and exhibitions.”