Events industry ignored while uncertainty threatens recovery

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has joined in the chorus of alarm over the future of the business event industry following the end of JobKeeper.

While state, territory and local government-backed convention bureaux continue to strategically bid for and win new business events for their respective destinations over the medium to long term, the immediate future is not clear, says the AACB.

The Snapshot Reports produced by the AACB from October 2020 have highlighted the successful postponement strategies undertaken by convention bureaux, with 70 per cent of international and 64 per cent of domestic business events on the forward calendar postponed.

However, the ongoing uncertainty this year has resulted in almost half of all postponed domestic business events at risk, not yet committing to a future date, and international business events unlikely.

Since the impacts of the pandemic hit Australia, AACB members have seen 241 international and 182 domestic business event cancellations due to Covid-19.

“The business events industry has been left unsupported by the conclusion of JobKeeper over the weekend,” said AACB president Michael Matthews.

“With only $4.5 million reimbursed to business through the government’s $50 million Business Events Grant Program at this time, it is not enough to sustain the critical sector that would otherwise boost the Australian economy by $36 billion.

“All key associations forming the peak industry body, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), have repeatedly advised Government of the program’s flawed design since its announcement, outlining the disconnect between where the grants are being distributed and where the primary COVID-19 risk is being assessed and realised. However, these calls have been ignored.

“To boost confidence, we need government to overhaul the Business Events Grant Program so that it supports event owners to deliver their business events against a backdrop of uncertainty, reduce cancellations, and inject much needed cashflow through the supply chain.

“In addition, we call on the government to deliver additional targeted support measures for tourism and events businesses that still need help in the absence of JobKeeper. This is to stem the loss of key skills and experience to other industries and prevent the unnecessary closure of small and family businesses that we will rely on to help deliver successful business events in recovery.”