Covid restrictions wipe $570m from New Zealand event sector

The events industry in New Zealand has seen half (20,000) of its planned events cancelled or postponed this year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stark figure comes from a new survey by the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA), Conventions & Incentives New Zealand, Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand, Entertainment Technology New Zealand and the New Zealand Promoters Association.

The survey shows that employers have cut their workforce by more than a third (35%) from pre-COVID-19 staffing levels.

Ségolène de Fontenay, NZEA’s general manager, has estimated that more than NZ$570 million has been lost to the events sector over the period of March-August 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

“More than half a billion dollars is a significant number when considering the number of jobs, economic and social benefits events deliver, but also the lost revenue to the country in terms of GST takings and regional contribution,” she said.

The main challenge currently was the uncertainty faced by the sector over the coming six months with most events unable proceed under the current alert level 2 attendee limits.

Further uncertainty was present over the public’s appetite for events leading to lower attendance rates.

Another significant challenge was financial, with COVID-19 related cancellations unable to be insured against, while a lack of certainty from sponsors, local government and funders was polled as the fifth biggest challenge followed by the logistical impacts of closed borders.

The industry is calling for the Government to address this uncertainty with increased consistency and clarity of language around events that clearly differentiates ‘controlled events’ from ‘social and mass gatherings’; increased collaboration with the events sector to define future guidelines for controlled event; a need for certainty for the events sector moving forward when planning ahead is a ‘must-have’ for the industry; and targeted support such as a further wage subsidy extension for the event organisers and events suppliers unable to deliver or postpone their events at alert level 2.

“Without these needs addressed, the Government runs the risk of losing its capability, expertise and its supply chain which have been instrumental in driving investment, economic and social benefits, domestic tourism and delivering on a world class event industry that Kiwis more than ever need within this period of COVID-induced austerity,” said De Fontenay.