April 19 2021

By Bronwen Largier

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has led the industry in praising Tourism Australia’s announcement of a $3 million one-year extension to the Business Events Bid Fund which provides direct financial assistance to international events to bring them to Australia.

However BECA and other representative bodies, from the Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG) to Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) and the Professional Conference Organisers Association (PCOA), have also renewed calls for immediate support for the industry to help it survive until more events resume.

“Tourism Australia’s continued commitment to the recovery of the business events sector both in the short and long-term is greatly valued,” said BECA Chair Dr Vanessa Findlay.

“The very nature of business events and the time that is required to plan, market, implement and deliver events, means the approach to the industry’s recovery needs to be handled differently to other sectors or industries.

“Given the operating environment the industry is working in, without immediate support from the Government, we are now at serious risk of losing valuable organisations and event professionals.

“BECA has presented short term initiatives for the Government’s consideration to assist in the forthcoming critical 6-12 month period as well as look at more long term rebound strategies.

“It is vital this industry be sustained to ensure it can once again deliver on the significant economic and social contribution business events make to our country,” said Findlay.

BECA is currently advocating for direct funding for event owners, COVID cancellation insurance for events to be underwritten by the government as well as a tax exemption and incentive to encourage event activity.

In its statement BECA says it is looking to secure multi-year international subvention funding in the long term while in the shorter term, measures which “derisk the environment” for events are important.

Meanwhile ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy, also welcomed the Bid Fund extension on behalf of ACCG but, like BECA, followed up with a warning.

“The extension of the bid fund program will provide further certainty for our international clients and a boost to securing significant business events for Australia in future years,” said Donaghy.

“Instilling confidence in our clients to activate their conference and events tentatively planned for the next 12 months is our immediate challenge.

The country’s convention centres along with all the businesses in our respective supply chains face the challenges of maintaining workforces after a year with minimal to no revenue. With few events actually taking place over the next six months, direct and effective support for the business events supply chain remains our greatest need.”

“MEA appreciates Tourism Australia’s ongoing commitment to our industry with the extension of the Bid Fund and Business Events Boost Program as well as the pipeline of future business these programs will attract and contribute towards the recovery of our industry,” said MEA Chair, Nigel Collin.

“We will continue to tackle the immediate and ongoing challenges our members face to sustain their businesses and retain our talented professionals.

“We still face a tough time ahead but are committed to doing all that is possible to attract support and build a strong future for us all.”

The PCOA echoed similar comments, while responses from the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux and the Exhibition and Event Association of Australia focused more on the positive impact of Tourism Australia’s additional funding for both international and domestic events, with $1 million also allocated through the national tourism agency to support domestic industry-led business events marketing partnerships through the next financial year.