August 4, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier
The Victorian State Government has released its report on the inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and events industries, documenting many of the known industry issues, but also raising a few points that have the potential to reshape some elements of the industry which are often ignored.
What we were expecting
The report acknowledges the longer recovery faced by the events industry in comparison to tourism and addresses many of the issues which have been circling the industry since the beginning of the pandemic, including consumer confidence, skills losses and shortages, insurance, mental health impacts, lack of industry understanding and consultation and the need for ongoing financial support. It also documents issues with Victoria’s Public Event Framework including slow approvals and lack of communication.
It makes a recommendation for an urgent exploration of insurance options by the Victorian Government in collaboration with Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, the Insurance Council of Australia and the events industry, to mitigate the current vacuum for event cancellation insurance due to COVID-19, with specific consideration of a shared risk underwriting scheme.
The report recommends State Government advocacy of the Commonwealth Government for the resumption of JobKeeper for the events industry, targeted apprenticeship programs or subsidised courses to address skills shortages, increased mental health support for the sector, speedier timeframes for approvals required within Victoria’s Public Events Framework and better access to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions’ Public Events Team for the industry, for support, advice and information.
And some game changing surprises
Two somewhat unexpected issues raised during the inquiry have the potential to create meaningful change within the industry if they are acted on by Government and the industry itself.
The report noted that many of the industry’s stakeholders don’t feel represented by industry associations, which has been the elephant in the room for some time, given the vast majority of association activity focuses on the business events sector, with little resource to spare for public events. During the inquiry one of the government panel members even made the comment that the industry lacks a cohesiveness in representation, noting that there appeared to be many claiming to be the voice of the industry.
The second potentially game changing finding and corresponding recommendation related to something the events industry has been struggling with for some time – the bundling together of the events and tourism industries and the visitation lens through which governments often view the events industry.
The report recommends the establishment of a specific “events industry taskforce” to “review and revise” consultation with the industry, including to recognise events separately from tourism, provide clarity around the scope of the sector and to give smaller businesses within the industry a greater voice.