April 8 2021

By Joyce DiMascio

The pandemic recovery phase of the events industry must be supported by appropriate insurance coverage.

That’s the strong message that is being taken to Government by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA).

BECA Chair, Dr Vanessa Findlay, confirmed that discussions have been held in recent days with Austrade, Treasury and the office of the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, in a bid to secure more focussed assistance for the business events industry.

With much disappointment around the failure of the Federal Government to continue targeted assistance following the end of JobKeeper last month, the business events industry’s peak body and its members are back in Canberra knocking on the doors of politicians and bureaucrats.

The sudden shutdown of the Byron Bluesfest last week highlighted the enormous risks faced by event organisers when insurance companies will not provide COVID-related cancellation coverage.

Findlay told micenet that insurance has been on the agenda since last May and that it is now a key focus of current discussions about support for the recovery phase of the industry.

“We have to build confidence in planning and holding events and insurance is one of the factors that will influence organisers’ appetite for holding events,” she said.

“What I’d like the industry to understand is that we are moving beyond the support phase that included JobKeeper and the Business Events Grants Program.

“We are now focussed on trying to influence the policy settings and support mechanisms that are beyond these baseline programs that have already been delivered by the Government. Insurance is a critical component.

“What we need is to get more business events happening especially those that are reluctant because of lack of confidence or loss of staff,” she said.

Findlay said in order for confidence to return, the Government’s policies had to be supportive and there needed to be a clear understanding of the barriers to confidence returning.

She also indicated it was highly unlikely there would be any further changes to the criteria of the $50 million Business Events Grants Program, beyond the changes announced by the Federal Government recently.

BECA is already on the record saying this program had not delivered support to the industry on the scale or in the time frame that was critically needed, with their understanding being that more than six months after the announcement of the program, only $8m of the $50m has been earmarked for distribution to grant recipients.