May 20, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier
It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other as far as policy promises supporting business events go for this federal election, with the nation heading to the polls tomorrow.
As the chair of the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) Leo Jago points out, with the election campaign dominated by national security and cost of living pressures, “no one else is getting a look-in”.
BECA has compiled a summary of how both the Liberal-National Party Coalition and the Australian Labor Party have pledged to support the business events industry and there is some good news alongside a lot of inaction.
On the good news front, business events has received bipartisan support, with both parties promising to continue the Business Events Bid Fund, managed by Tourism Australia, which offers financial incentives to international events to bring their gatherings to Australia. Both parties have also pledged to provide better data capture for business events visitors, which Jago says is critical to show the size, scope and reach of the sector.
“We’ve just got to make sure that’s realised now,” says Jago.
“It’s very well to give indicative support – we’ll be pushing very hard after the election with whoever’s in power to make sure that’s operationalised.”
However, neither party has taken a stance on a number of policy issues important to the business events sector, including resolving the event insurance gap created by the pandemic, developing a national business events strategy, introducing a temporary fringe benefits tax exemption for corporate incentives, supporting aviation recovery and reducing the complexity and cost of business events visitor visas.
Jago says business events have benefited from the development of the next tourism strategy, THRIVE 2030, and he hopes that if Labor takes power tomorrow they will honour the strategy.
But if you’re looking for a clear business events favourite to back tomorrow, Jago says there hasn’t been enough in either party’s campaign to back one over the other.
“Throughout the election because tourism and business events haven’t been the focus, we really haven’t got enough – we haven’t seen enough – to really determine that.
“The one thing that is really pleasing though [is] that both parties have at least identified business events as an item on their agenda and that really hasn’t happened for some time,” he said.
The focus for BECA post-election is to address the organisation’s own resourcing and sustainability challenges so that it can advocated effectively on behalf of the industry and to continue its work to ensure the industry has a single unified voice – it seems that a single industry association might be the way to achieve that.
“We’ve moved towards that anyway,” says Jago, when asked if that was the goal.
“The industry associations have actually come together very closely over the last year and there has been a single voice.”