The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has released its latest Forward Calendar which highlights the immediate impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on the pipeline of international business events secured for Australia.

While 373 international business events were confirmed for Australia, 35 per cent have been postponed into 2021 and beyond, which artificially inflates the future pipeline for the country.

AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl said: “The global pandemic has shut down Australia’s business events industry for 2020 and significantly disrupted the forward pipeline.

“Ongoing long-term investment will therefore be essential to attract international conventions and exhibitions as part of Australia’s economic recovery plan, not only to support the visitor economy, but the recovery of our key industries.”

The AACB stated that a permanent extension and boost of the Business Events Bid Fund, in addition to Tourism Australia’s annual appropriation, is therefore required beyond the program’s initial three-year period, scheduled to conclude at the end of this financial year.

Furthermore, the AACB claims, 59 international business events that were expected to be held in Australia this year have been cancelled, with at least one in four of these pivoting to virtual. Likewise, 20 per cent of all international bid opportunities in play have been postponed, while a further 30 bids were withdrawn prior to a decision being made.

This year was set to see 145,000 delegates gathering in Australia across 183 international business events, forecast to contribute over $420 million to the visitor economy. However, the July edition of the Forward Calendar shows that more than 86,500 delegates have been impacted by 129 postponed events due to COVID-19 – delaying some $226 million reaching Australian tourism and events businesses.

This edition also saw ‘major crisis’ introduced as a reason for bid decisions impacted by the global pandemic. Over 7.4 per cent of international bids were lost because of the crisis and it was the leading contributor (31 per cent) specifically for corporate bids lost.