The Covid pandemic is artificially inflating the business events pipeline and long-term investment is critical, says the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), which has released its latest Forward Calendar.
While a calendar of 373 confirmed wins represents a strong list of international business events for Australia’s future, 35% have been postponed into 2021 and beyond. Unprecedented competition for the high-yield business events market is also expected from countries around the world.
AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl says: “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 is asking for a permanent extension and boost of the Business Events Bid Fund, in addition to Tourism Australia’s annual appropriation, beyond the programme’s initial three-year period, which concludes at the end of this financial year.
Fifty-nine international business events that were expected to be held in Australia this year have been cancelled, with one in four of these pivoting to virtual. Likewise, 20% of all international bid opportunities in play have been postponed, while a further 30 bids were withdrawn prior to a decision being made.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 A$420m 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 $226m reaching Australian tourism and events businesses.