In a show of confidence for the business events sector, Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has announced changes to the federal government’s $12 million Business Events Bid Fund to make it more accessible to smaller regional destinations.
Changes to the eligibility criteria of the Bid Fund Program now allow destinations bidding for smaller events to apply for funding.
“The Morrison Government’s Business Events Bid Fund Program aims to provide Australian destinations with a crucial edge when competing against other international destinations for an event by providing funding support for their bids,” Birmingham said.
“The fund has been hugely successful and has received overwhelming support from key stakeholders and the tourism industry.”
Since its launch last year, the fund has received 88 event bid applications with 23 of these having been converted as new business for Australia worth more than $270 million to the economy.
“After reflecting on the first year of operation we asked the industry what could be done to make the fund more effective,” he said. “Based on their feedback, we felt there was scope to make the program more accessible by broadening the terms and conditions so that more bids are eligible to access funds.
“This means that the program will now offer greater assistance to regional destinations that often bid for smaller international events and which we know provide far reaching economic benefits to their local communities by filling hotel rooms, restaurants and venues.”
Changes to the fund, which is managed by Tourism Australia, include lowering the number of international delegates confirmed for association events from 500 currently to 400; lowering the number of international delegates confirmed for incentive events of a minimum value of $3 million from 1000 currently to 700; lowering the level of matched funds required from applicants from $100,000 currently to $50,000; and extending applications for event travel up to 30 December 2024.
The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) welcomed the announcement, saying it will make the program more accessible to regional Australia.
“This is a win for many of the AACB’s member convention bureaux which will result in increased international bid wins and drive high yield visitation for smaller destinations, generating jobs across the tourism and events sector including venues, accommodation and restaurants,” said Andrew Hiebl, AACB’s CEO.
AACB president Michael Matthews said Australia needs to remain ahead of the game against “fierce competition” within our region.
“The success of the bid fund to date, is evident that a future dedicated and increased bid fund is a good strategy for Australia to improve our international competitiveness,” he said.
“Ernst & Young indicate that the business events industry contributes $30 billion in direct expenditure and over 193,000 direct jobs each year. The future success of Australia’s business events industry will boost trade and investment, support the knowledge economy, and help local industries showcase their capabilities on the world stage.”