Australia opens A$50m grant programme for events, as PM speaks in support of sector’s critical role in recovery

Australasia Coronavirus Updates News
Australia opens A$50m grant programme for events, as PM speaks in support of sector’s critical role in recovery

Following the Australian government’s announcement of a AU$50m (US$36m) Business Events Grants Programme in September, Phase one of the scheme has now commenced with Phase two to follow in mid-December.

As a first phase, Austrade has opened an Expression of Interest (EOI) process to business event owners to establish a schedule of approved business events. The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has urged business event owners across the country to submit EOIs by 30 November to ensure their events can be considered for the schedule when Phase two opens.

Chair of BECA, Dr Vanessa Findlay (pictured), said: “BECA are pleased with the design of this first phase and think it has identified the most important aspects of the contribution the business events industry can make to the recovery of the Australian economy.

“The industry looks forward to working with the Government on the finalisation of grant guidelines and subsequent launch and allocation of grants across the business events industry.”

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison added: ‘’Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy.”

Findlay said: “The industry has its fingers crossed that the design of the grants programme will provide the necessary financial boost and confidence to business event owners to book and hold their business event during 2021.

“Another year of cancelled and postponed events would put the entire Australian business events industry in a questionable recovery position. Without a solid recovery in 2021, the whole logistics and supply chain for the industry could be dislocated to a point where the impacts are felt for years to come. We do not want to see the industry focused on five years of rebuilding, before moving to recovery and then rebound.

“This grants programme must first and foremost turn positive sentiment into confidence, and that confidence into event bookings.”

Noting the developing reaction and reimposition of border controls to the recent Covid-19 cluster in South Australia, the business events industry urged premiers and chief ministers to react proportionately.

Findlay said: “As I watch the knee-jerk reaction of some premiers around the country to the South Australian cluster with no notice, I fear the worst for any business trying to rebuild confidence in this uncertain environment.

“For business events, this means decision-makers – those that bear 100% of the risk – will favour the continuation of virtual meetings over in-person meetings, which will have serious consequences for the Australian industry and the economy if delegates can’t move around the country with confidence.”

BECA aims to “create an environment where business event owners are confident to plan, book and hold a business event”, and will continue to advise the government on the design and implementation of the Business Events Grants Programme.

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