Investment needed as pandemic artificially inflates the business events pipeline

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has released its latest Forward Calendar which highlights the immediate impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on the pipeline of international business events secured for Australia.

The AACB says that while 373 confirmed wins represents a strong calendar of international business events for Australia’s future, 35 per cent have been postponed into 2021 and beyond, which artificially inflates the future pipeline for the country.

Fifty-nine international business events that were expected to be held in Australia this year have been cancelled, with at least one in four of these pivoting to virtual. Likewise, 20 per cent of all international bid opportunities in play have been postponed, while a further 30 bids were withdrawn prior to a decision being made.

With unprecedented competition for the high-yield business events market expected from countries around the world, the AACB says the industry will require long-term support from governments.

“The global pandemic has shut down Australia’s business events industry for 2020 and significantly disrupted the forward pipeline,” said AACB CEO Andrew Hiebl.

“Ongoing long-term investment will therefore be essential to attract international conventions and exhibitions as part of Australia’s economic recovery plan, not only to support the visitor economy, but the recovery of our key industries.”

The AACB is calling for a permanent extension and boost of the Business Events Bid Fund beyond the program’s initial three-year period, which scheduled to conclude at the end of this financial year.

This year was set to see 145,000 delegates gathering in Australia across 183 international business events, forecast to contribute over $420 million to the visitor economy. However, the July edition of the Forward Calendar shows that more than 86,500 delegates have been impacted by 129 postponed events due to COVID-19 – delaying some $226 million reaching Australian tourism and events businesses.