By Brad Foster

A study on the coronavirus impact on the European convention sector is anticipating a return of 75 per cent of meetings from September but with lower numbers, which is likely to continue out to 2023.

The study – The Impact of Coronavirus on Europe’s Convention Sector – was prepared by Tourism Economics and predicts a reduction in average attendance of 25 per cent for 2021 and five per cent in 2022 before fully recovering in 2023.

The study found the total number of event visits in Europe were expected to fall by 58 per cent in 2020, with the worst case scenario anticipating a 77 per cent fall.

It also foresees continued government restrictions on the size of gatherings in 2021 and a stronger impact of negative sentiment amongst potential attendees, which will ultimately not see full recovery before 2024.

“The upside scenario, on the other hand, works with the assumption that the crisis is brought under control in the next few months and expects a recovery beginning in June, with 25 per cent of all planned events going ahead, increasing to 75 per cent in August and all planned events being completed from September onwards,” the report says.

Three factors in particular are driving the impact and were taken into account for the analysis:

(1) event cancellations or delays implemented voluntarily by organisers or in response to government restrictions on crowd gatherings

(2) official travel restrictions, be it government  or corporate

(3) individual risk aversion that might lead to potential attendees cancel their attendance

The easing of some restrictions by government in Australia and New Zealand may result in less of an impact than Europe, however, what is almost certain is that there will be a reduction in international delegate attendance for at least six months and probably 12.

This could result in a mix of online and offline meetings for international conventions, and for venue operators, a focus on domestic and Trans-Tasman meetings.

The Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe is a network of national destination marketing organisations. As a collaborative industry platform, it concentrates on strengthening Europe’s position as a leading destination for international business events. The purpose of the Alliance is to create a beneficial working relationship amongst the national convention bureaux of Europe in order to sustain and further develop the position of Europe.