June 4, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

Victoria’s regional business events sector, which pre-COVID had generated an estimated $4 billion in economic benefit for the state, could be down as much as 100 percent says Chris Porter, executive officer of Business Events Victoria (BEV).

And while regional Victoria received the good news this week that they would not have a second week of lockdown, the state’s regions will also miss out on Queen’s Birthday long weekend stays after Melburnians were warned not to take a country holiday break.

BEV is undertaking a survey of all members this week, but Porter says “they are struggling and one of the key challenges is the uncertainty around how long we’re in this lockdown for”.

Asked whether they might be down 80 or 90 percent, he said, “they are probably down 100 per cent in their business events activities…they might take $40,000 for a conference they had to cancel this week, plus the cost of food they might have bought in for the event”.

The Victorian Government’s support package would allow them to claim up to $3,500, which hardly covers their costs, but he says “they will only be able to claim that for one week since they are excluded from the second week of lockdown”.  He says the industry was awaiting details of an announced second  support package for leisure travellers that would benefit many of his member properties in the regions.

One bright light in the regions was the opening of the 4.5 star Sebel Yarrawonga and an announcement by Marriott International Area Vice President for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Sean Hunt who told micenet his group would open 5-star properties in regional cities.