The Association of Australia Convention Bureau Inc. (AACB) is opposing an Amendment Bill that will remove event planners from receiving government financial assistance to boost delegate numbers internationally.

The Amendment Bill to the Export Market Development Grant scheme proposes to remove “event promoters” from the scheme.

According to the AACB, the EMDG scheme is a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters. Administered by Austrade, the scheme supports a wide range of industry sectors and products, including inbound tourism and the export of intellectual property and know-how outside Australia.

The AACB says the removal of ‘event promoters’ from this scheme will reduce the assistance and support provided to an important part of the business events sector.

In 2011/12, Australian convention bureaux won and assisted the placement of 456 international business events for Australia. These events are expected to attract 149,475 delegates for 609,385 visitor nights, with an economic benefit of $385.2 million.

The AACB’s executive director, Andrew Hiebl, said the proposed amendment “will have significant impact resulting in fewer international delegates for Australia and therefore reduced export revenue, and a reduction in all of the indirect benefits brought to the economy by business events.”

“At a time when current global economic conditions and a high AUD make Australia a less attractive long haul destination, now is not the time to be reducing support for delegate boosting activities.”

The Federal Government has not yet responded to AACB concerns of Austrade’s changed approach to the assessment of its members’ EMDG applications, where some state’s convention bureaux are having their grant substantially reduced by the proportion of source funding that is obtained by local or state government.

AACB therefore recommends a further detailed review of the proposed 2013 EMDG amendments with business events industry consultation before passing any such Amendment Bill.