Business Events News
BECA BLASTS GRANTS PROGRAM
THE Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) says the industry is now facing a perfect storm, forced to contend with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy program and an inappropriately targeted grants scheme.
BECA Chair, Dr Vanessa Findlay, particularly slammed the poor design of the $50 million Business Events Grants Program which has “left the industry with virtually no targeted Government support post JobKeeper”.
“The program established is misaligned and has not delivered support to the industry in the scale or time frame that is critically needed... after more than six months only $8 million of the $50 million has been earmarked for distribution to grant recipients,” Findlay fumed.
“In such a challenging environment to see only 16% of the funds used is an incredibly strong indicator of just how poor this program is,” she said.
Findlay noted that while the 28 Mar deadline for the end of JobKeeper had now passed, “what has not passed is the uncertainty, severe limitations and restrictions that are compromising our industry’s survival and pathway to recovery”.
“Investment in ongoing targeted support is needed as an urgent priority to ensure we can sustain our sector and retain our event professionals into the future,” Findlay said.
BECA’s most recent industry survey found that 85% of event businesses were still accessing the JobKeeper program for the Jan-Mar 2021 period, with almost half expecting to make more staff redundant with the cessation of the scheme.
Almost a quarter of businesses in the industry are expecting to be forced to close, with 61% seeing a 75-100% reduction in turnover for 2020 versus 2019.
“The Business Events Grants Program is simply not sufficient nor effective enough to bring the support desperately needed,” Findlay said.
“We will not only see more job losses and business failures in the short term, but also long-term ramifications for the economic potential of the industry... we will lose market share to other countries that may never return,” she added.
MEANWHILE the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has also highlighted the difficult situation faced by the industry without ongoing Governement support.
“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.
“Since the impacts of the pandemic hit Australia, AACB members have endured 241 international and 182 domestic business event cancellations due to COVID-19,” said AACB President Michael Matthews.
He noted that all key associations behind BECA had repeatedly advised the Government of the flawed design of the grants scheme, “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,” Matthews said.
As well as overhauling the grants scheme, AACB called on the Government to deliver additional targeted support measures for tourism and events businesses that still need help post-JobKeeper.