The Morrison government has announced $50 million in funding for Australia’s business events industry. The funding was granted in response to the Business Events Council of Australia’s (BECA) Recovery and Rebound Framework and is aimed at driving confidence and creating momentum within the industry.

Under the Australian Business Events Grants Program, approved business events, including meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs (between $10,000 and $250,000). This initiative is part of the Morrison-McCormack Government’s $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, which supports sectors severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Close collaboration with government led to this announcement as BECA’s Recovery and Rebound Framework highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the sector and the need for funding to drive business confidence.

In a statement, BECA commented: “With a contribution of $35.7 billion to the Australian economy, and employment of 229,000 people, it’s important that the business events industry can recover as quickly as possible.

“Last year over 480,000 business events were held in Australia and over 43 million people attended a business event in the form of a meeting, convention, exhibition or incentive event. In a recent survey conducted by BECA, 67 per cent of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2020 and 48% of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2021 either.

“While Australia’s state and territory borders remain closed, the recovery of the business events industry is seriously impeded. BECA calls for clear guidelines that provide predictability and transparency in the way the borders are being managed so businesses can plan and book their next business event with confidence.”

Industry leaders react to $50 million funding announcement

On the announcement, BECA chair Dr Vanessa Findlay said: “Australia’s business events industry is deeply appreciative of the Federal Government’s support through this grants program. Our industry has been devastated by COVID-19. We can now look to rebuilding business confidence and kick-starting momentum across the entire business events supply chain – for meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions. BECA’s goal is to not only support the business events industry itself, but to also maximise the contribution business events make to the recovery of the wider economy. This support package will be pivotal to that.”

Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) President Michael Matthews said: “Australia’s convention bureaux are mindful of the devastating impact the coronavirus has had on their 1800 members and industry stakeholders across the country. This funding will have a monumental impact on business confidence and the return of business events in Australia.”

BECA Deputy Chair and representative for ACCG Geoff Donaghy said: “I wholeheartedly welcome today’s announcement. The funding package will not only help boost client confidence to start planning events again but, critically, it also acknowledges of the enormous economic, cultural and social value of the business events industry to Australia.”

Chief executive of the Exhibition and Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) Claudia Sagripanti said: “The Federal Government’s recognition of the critical role that exhibitions play as a vehicle for economic recovery, is to be commended. This funding will assist in the business events industry getting back on its feet and doing what it does best – connecting businesses through consumer and trade shows and conferences, to keen buyers of new products and services. We also look forward to the reopening of state borders to support the viability of the industry.”

Chair of Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) Kate Smith said: “This is much needed support for our industry and recognises the contribution business events can make to the recovery of our economy. Our membership represents the entire supply chain of specialists needed to create and deliver outstanding business events – large, medium and small enterprises as well as sole operators and freelancers. All have been significantly impacted by COVID and this support is a positive step towards our recovery.”

Professional Conference Organisers Association (PCOA) President Barry Neame said: “The establishment of the Federal recovery fund is a wonderful and timely announcement for PCOs and their clients across Australia, trying to run a business event during the most challenging conditions. Once state borders open, with this support we will do our bit to get the Australian economy back on its feet.”