The government’s $50 million Business Events Program, which was announced by the prime minister, deputy prime minister and portfolio ministers in September 2020, has officially begun. The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the commencement of phase one, which has seen Austrade open an EOI process to business event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events.

BECA is urging business event owners across the country to submit EOIs by November 30, 2020, to ensure their events can be considered for the schedule when phase two of the grants program opens in mid-December.

“BECA is pleased with the design of this first phase and think it has identified the most important aspects of the contribution the business events industry can make to the recovery of the Australian economy,” chair of BECA Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

“The industry looks forward to working with the government on the finalisation of grant guidelines and subsequent launch and allocation of grants across the business events industry.”

In welcoming the program’s commencement BECA noted the government’s focus on the importance of the industry and the jobs that it supports. In September, minister for finance, trade, tourism and investment Simon Birmingham said: “Our business events sector is doing it incredibly tough at present and getting events put back into the calendar will help this key part of our tourism industry which supports around 230,000 jobs turn the corner.”

Prime minister Morrison stated: ‘’Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy.”

Dr Findlay continued: “The industry has its fingers crossed that the design of the grants program will provide the necessary financial boost and confidence to business event owners to book and hold their business event during 2021.

“Another year of cancelled and postponed events would put the entire Australian business events industry in a questionable recovery position. Without a solid recovery in 2021, the whole logistics and supply chain for the industry could be dislocated to a point where the impacts are felt for years to come. We do not want to see the industry focused on 5 years of rebuilding, before moving to recovery and then rebound.

“This grants program must first and foremost turn positive sentiment into confidence, and that confidence into event bookings.”