A new wave of layoffs and business closures IS NEARING
On 19 November 2020, representatives of the Slovenian meetings industry initiative held an online press conference to voice their concerns over the sixth coronavirus aid package. Representatives had high expectations from the aid, but say that it will not solve the specific challenges the meetings industry faces, being one of the most affected economic sectors.
The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the event sector first and most deeply. It will also probably be the last to recover. Over 350 companies from the Slovenian meetings industry have been in economic turmoil since 12 March. These include representatives of catering, congress/exhibition centres, event agencies, congress hotels, contractors and providers of rental equipment and trade fair equipment.
“We support all the government’s measures so far, but a lot of questions still remain unresolved. The most problematic is the area of grants to companies with losses of profit higher than 40%, which in our opinion is significantly too low. Current subsidies will not enable companies to survive, and not only will they be forced to lay off employees, but unfortunately many will cease to exist” said Miha Kovačič, official representative of the initiative committee of the Slovenian meetings industry.
What does the new aid bring for Slovenian meeting planners?
An example calculation for a major fair organiser in Slovenia, who would have lost 75% of his revenue due to coronavirus restrictions, shows that the organiser would need to receive 54,000 EUR/month or 80% of the monthly fixed costs to stay in business. With the new aid package and a cap per employee, the total subsidy is only 21,000 EUR for 3 months. This represents only 8% of the fixed costs (excluding depreciation and salaries) in the period from the beginning of the crisis to 31 December 2020.
One of Slovenia’s largest fair organisers, Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Center had to postpone all nine major international congresses planned for this year. Iztok Bricl, director of the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Center, emphasized that the shutdown of fairs, congresses and conferences exacerbates the problems of city tourist destinations: “The pandemic has hit city tourist destinations the hardest, and this has shown how vital these depend on the meetings industry. Ljubljana has recorded a 70% drop in overnight stays, while Maribor a 75% drop.”
Without the meetings industry, the balance of Slovenian tourism simply won’t work out. At the beginning of this year, Slovenia was on its way to become the leading congress destination in this part of Europe. In the coming months, however, it could become the biggest “loser” of the current corona situation.
Watch the full press conference
The press conference is only available in Slovenian language.