Photo Credit: Spice News

Restart mechanism for the business events industry

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the commencement of the Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants Program which was announced by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and portfolio ministers in September 2020.

As a first phase, Austrade has opened an EOI process to business event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events. BECA has urged business event owners across Australia to submit EOIs by 30 November to ensure their events can be considered for the Schedule when phase two of the grants Program opens in mid-December.

Vanessa Findlay

Chair of BECA

“BECA are pleased with the design of this first phase and think it has identified the most important aspects of the contribution the business events industry can make to the recovery of the Australian economy,” Chair of BECA, Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

“The industry looks forward to working with the Government on the finalisation of grant guidelines and subsequent launch and allocation of grants across the business events industry. Australia’s $36 billion business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries by COVID-19 and may be one of the last to recover, due to the long lead times between booking and holding a major business event. The industry virtually ground to a halt in 2020 with most business events scheduled cancelled or postponed.”

“The industry has its fingers crossed that the design of the grants program will provide the necessary financial boost and confidence to business event owners to book and hold their business event during 2021,” Dr Findlay said.

“Another year of cancelled and postponed events would put the entire Australian business events industry in a questionable recovery position. Without a solid recovery in 2021, the whole logistics and supply chain for the industry could be dislocated to a point where the impacts are felt for years to come. We do not want to see the industry focused on 5 years of rebuilding, before moving to recovery and then rebound. This grants program must first and foremost to turn positive sentiment into confidence, and that confidence into event bookings.”

“As I watch the knee-jerk reaction of some Premiers around the country to the recent South Australian cluster with no notice, I fear the worst for any business trying to rebuild confidence in this uncertain environment. For business events, this means decision-makers – those that bear 100% of the risk – will favour the continuation of virtual meetings over in-person meetings, which will have serious consequences for the Australian industry and the economy if delegates can’t move around the country with confidence.”

Photo Credit: BECA

In welcoming the program’s commencement BECA noted the Government’s focus on the importance of the industry and the jobs that it supports. In September, Minister Birmingham said, “Our business events sector is doing it incredibly tough at present and getting events put back into the calendar will help this key part of our tourism industry which supports around 230,000 jobs turn the corner.”

Prime Minister Morrison stated, “Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy.”

Noting the developing reaction and reimposition of border controls to the new COVID-19 cluster in South Australia, the business events industry urged Premiers and Chief Ministers to react proportionately.

BECA’s most significant priority is to create an environment where business event owners are confident to plan, book and hold a business event. Only then can the benefits of the industry flow across the economy.

BECA will continue to advise the Government on the design and implementation of the Business Events Grants Program to achieve its primary objective – the restart of the business events industry in Australia – as well as other policies that will support the recovery and rebound phase.

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