March 23, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio | Image: Matt Pearce, director of Talk2 Media and Events, AIME’s organiser with federal minister for tourism, trade and investment Dan Tehan

Federal minister for tourism, trade and investment Dan Tehan did a flying visit through the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) yesterday and foreshadowed the $5 million in additional funding for the business events sector announced by the Prime Minister later in the day.

Tehan joined AIME’s Australian media contingent for a 10-minute “door-stop” at which he said more funding would be made available for business events – this has now been confirmed as a top up Tourism Australia’s business events subvention fund.

In the absence of a rapid return of Chinese leisure travellers due to China’s zero COVID policy, business events are likely to become more important for Australia, he said.

“It’s now uncertain as to when we’ll see the strong rebound [of Chinese visitors] so business events will likely become the most important segment going forward of our tourism market,” Tehan said.

“We understand how important business events are going forward.”

micenet asked the minister how the government would work with industry to address chronic staff shortages. He said a range of measures had been rolled out to boost the work force.

Among them was waiving visa fees for international students and backpackers to encourage them back to Australia, which was announced in January.

“One of the hopes that I have when it comes to backpackers, is to lift the cap on backpackers even further to get more backpackers in to help and support.

“We’ve also got to look at the opportunities that we have with young Australians and other Australians that we need to retrain to get into our hospitality and our tourism industries,” he said.

Tehan welcomed the return of AIME and said that the country is seeing light at the end of the tunnel in relation to the return of business events.

“We’ve come through the worst of the pandemic and what we need to be doing is driving confidence. That’s why it’s wonderful to be here.

“We’ve got exhibitors here, and for me, it’s onwards and upwards. We’ve got all the policy settings to continue pushing towards reopening.

“We’ve got cruise ships back, [we’re] fully open internationally, we’ve had New Zealand come back as they’ve changed their policy settings. My hope is as we go through the winter, those last remaining health regulations that we have in place will be removed.”

He said the future was rosy, but it was important to boost confidence in travel again, especially long- haul.

“What we’ve got to be doing is making sure we’re giving people the confidence to travel.

Tehan said the desire to come to Australia was still strong.

“It’s now about driving the confidence and everything we’ll be doing is about driving that.”