August 4, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

One of Australia’s leading industry groups, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has welcomed the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) as a new member of the national peak body.

John Hart, Executive Chairman, Australian Chamber – Tourism, welcomed BECA into the peak body’s business community.

He told micenet that the inclusion of BECA was very positive and the immediate effect would be to give the business events sector input to a raft of policy submissions being prepared by ACCI.

“There is the opportunity to have an immediate input to the work being done to reimagine the visitor economy beyond the current COVID-related challenges,” he said.

“ACCI can now bring together all parts of tourism and business events sectors and provide the opportunity to have everyone together discussing the issues and what is needed today and also in the future.”

Having BECA around the table with one of the major industry peak bodies has the potential to strengthen its advocacy impact by leveraging the might and reach of the Australian Chamber.

Jenny Lambert, current acting CEO of ACCI, also welcomed BECA’s decision to join the peak body for business.

“This puts business events at the heart of business in the economy,” she said.

“The business events and tourism sectors can’t afford to sit on the fringes any longer if they want to be heard. By being part of the Australian Chamber, it puts business events at the heart of things.”

And what does this mean?

“The Australian Chamber has access to advisory groups to the Australian Government that a single sector organisation can’t possiblly access,” Lambert said.

“We use that access to ensure our members are fully informed and it also allows our members to influence what is taken into those policy environments.”

Hart and Lambert are both very familiar with the business events sector and are seasoned policy developers and advocacy leaders – Hart with a strong focus on training, industrial relations, restaurants and hospitality and Lambert on business events, training, and the wider economic agenda. They are both at the epicentre of industries’ interactions with Governments.

Among the advisory groups which the Australian Chamber has a key role in at present are the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, which is chaired by Jeremy Johnson, the highly respected former Chairman of the Australian Chamber.

The Tourism Recovery Taskforce (TRT) was established in May 2020 to develop a recovery plan for the tourism industry from 2020-2023 in recognition that this sector of the economy had been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Australian Chamber is actively engaged with the Reimagining the Visitor Economy expert panel which was appointed by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan in April 2021.

The panel is led by former Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Martin Ferguson AM an will help chart a course for sustainable long-term growth of the visitor economy after the devastating impact of COVID-19. Other panel members are Leanne Coddington, CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland; Karyn Kent, Chief Executive of StudyAdelaide; Kate Lamont AM, founder of Lamont’s Wine and Food in Western Australia; and Juan Walker, owner-operator of Walkabout Cultural Adventures in Queensland.

The work of the taskforce and the panel are the major pathways to helping to inform the short-term recovery and the longer-term aspirations for the visitor economy, of which business events is a key component.

For an industry sector in need of so much support, the deepening involvement with the Australian Chamber is an important development.

BECA is constrained by its level of resourcing and narrow membership, so the new formal relationship with the Australian Chamber is a critical step for the business events body in the competitive world of advocacy.

Our industry needs all the help it can get, and it is a sensible move to be part of one of the most influential business groups – but to be heard, to have influence, BECA will also need to make the business case for why our sector matters. This must be supported by evidence in order to make an impact and not fall to the sidelines.