‘Starting point’ BECA reacts to changes in event grant fund

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) says it will continue to lobby the federal government for ongoing support for the events sector following last week’s changes to the Business Events Grant Program which formed part of the government’s overall $1.2 billion tourism rescue package.

While BECA said the changes to the program had taken into account its feedback, the industry was still “doing it tough”.

BECA’s recent survey of business owners, freelancers and contractors showed the industry recovery was still a long way ahead with reliance on JobKeeper decreasing only slightly to 85 per cent for the January to March 2021 period (down from 87 per cent).

With JobKeeper scheduled to conclude on 28 March, 47 per cent of businesses will make more staff redundant, and without further government support, 23 per cent of businesses will close.

Nearly two thirds (61 per cent) of business events businesses saw a 75-100 per cent reduction in turnover for 2020 compared to 2019, while 44 per cent forecast the same result for the six-months to June 2021.

The business events industry has also seen a shift in confidence with 50 per cent now believing they will return to pre-crisis levels in “3-5 years” – a significant 10 per cent shift from the “1-2 year” response in July 2020.

“The business events industry is clearly a sector that requires targeted assistance to enable its recovery,” said BECA Chair Dr Vanessa Findlay.

“Given the challenges we are facing with operating restrictions, border closures, consumer confidence to travel to participate in events and the lead time required to plan and deliver events, our research shows the industry is still 9-12 months away from any significant return to business operations.

“Targeted support is critical to sustain valuable businesses and event professionals in the interim period as is the timing and implementation of this support.

“We consider the announcement yesterday as a starting point of what is required by Government to support the sector and look forward to continuing our consultation with the Government to develop targeted solutions to achieve these outcomes as a priority.”