Business Events News



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.

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