BECA welcomes ‘critical lifeline’ with JobKeeper supporting almost every event business

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the extension of the JobKeeper program until March, calling it a critical lifeline for around 110,000 employees across the business events industry.

But BECA has called for further targeted government support after releasing the results of an industry-wide survey that showed JobKeeper was supporting up to 96 per cent of industry businesses to retain employees.

The survey shows three quarter (75 per cent) of respondents have staff who have been made redundant, stood down or on reduced hours and 67 per cent noted they have no business for 2020 with 48 per cent reporting they had no business booked for 2021 either.

Around half (52 per cent) of business thought they may recover within 1-2 years whilst more than 40 per cent thought it would take 3-5 years.

“The business events industry was one of the first industries to be impacted by COVID-19, one of the hardest hit and may be one of the last industries to recover due to the long lead times between booking and actually holding a major business event,” BECA Chair Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

“The results of our survey show that JobKeeper was a critical lifeline for thousands of businesses across Australia and over one-hundred thousand employees across the industry and we welcome the Government’s announced extension of the program into 2021.”​

The industry’s reliance on in-person gatherings and interactions of people leave it particularly exposed to the necessary ongoing public health orders and restrictions. As a result, 96 per cent of business events scheduled for 2020 in Australia have been cancelled or postponed. Major international events due to be held in Australia in 2021 are increasingly in doubt.

“The survey shows that our businesses are struggling and that recovery will be a hard and a long slog,” Findlay said.

“It’s brings into stark reality the situation that the business events industry is facing when three-quarters of respondents have had to stand down employees, let them go completely or significantly reduce their hours.

“Though JobKeeper has helped the industry maintain critical capacity and capability among our workforce, the nature of our industry means that without events being held thousands of casuals have been forced out of work which we deeply regret.”

To aid the recovery of the Australian business events industry, BECA has called for targeted government support that will build confidence and create momentum for people to get back to in-person business events.

“As an industry, we want to emerge from the crisis in a position to help build business confidence across the Australian economy and, when the time is right, grow Australia’s share of global events in what will be a highly competitive and disrupted market,” said Findlay.​

Read the full report here.