BECA calls for an end to uncertainty around state borders

Australasia News
BECA calls for an end to uncertainty around state borders

The Australian business events industry continues to face severe limitations and restrictions, with uncertainty over internal state borders compromising the pathway to recovery, according to the latest statement from the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA).

The state premiers are yet to agree a common management policy relating to free movement within Australia.

BECA points out the industry has invested heavily in preparing its businesses to deliver Covid Safe events in terms of protocols, training and infrastructure.

“However, the critical challenge now being faced by the business events industry is uncertainty in relation to border management, conflicting guidelines for event approvals across the states and the financial implication to businesses with the impending conclusion of JobKeeper,” the BECA statement says.

Border restrictions are impacting the confidence of event organisers, BECA goes on to note, as well as the ability for event participants to make commitments, something that has led to event cancellations for the first half of 2021.

Event organisers managing the financial risk of events are reliant on national participation, BECA points out, adding that the perceived risk to fly interstate to attend a conference, exhibition or meeting is too high if there is a potential threat of border closures or enforced quarantine.

The annual Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME), set to take place in Melbourne in March, had a significant role to support recovery as a place where business events buyers and sellers come together to do business over the short to medium term, but it too has had to cancel this week as a consequence of internal border uncertainty.

BECA warns that the Australian business events industry will not recover if it is limited to conducting state-based events. “We need to be able to leverage off the size and scope of national event participation and the contribution it makes to the visitor economy. With the current limitations on international inbound business, our industry is even more reliant on this national market to recover in 2021.”

BECA is calling on state and federal leaders to create confidence in business once again and commit to an evidence-based approach to managing internal borders, an approach it says is critical to enable survival and then recovery of the business events industry.

Many businesses in our industry are now looking at 12-18 months of little or no revenue, but the JobKeeper support scheme, which enabled many companies to survive throughout 2020, is set to conclude in March 2021. BECA says the business conditions that saw that scheme being introduced have not changed for the events sector, and in some cases, have worsened for 2021. With the limitations and restrictions surrounding our industry, most organisations continue to experience loss of revenue more aligned to 70-100% rather than the 30% criteria.

Dr Vanessa Findlay, Chair of BECA commented: “We are not in the position of recovery we envisaged for early 2021 and continue to face extraordinary challenges to ensure the survival of the business events sector.

“With the impending conclusion of the JobKeeper scheme, the industry is deeply concerned that the conditions that led to JobKeeper have not improved for the business events industry. Businesses cannot remain viable with revenue losses that are averaging more than 70%, and this has been ongoing for over 12 months now. We cannot see a path to recovery for the industry if it does not include some form of ongoing targeted Government support.

“BECA continues its work with the Federal Government to formulate options for ongoing support programs and extends its calls to our State Leaders to consider state-based recovery grants. We have business in the pipeline for 2021 and beyond and need to ensure we can sustain the infrastructure and professional expertise through this critical period”.

BECA represents the major Australian event industry associations and organisations as the ‘single voice’ to government. It is a sector that, pre-Covid, supported more than 229,000 jobs and delivered over A$35bn to the Australian economy

 

 

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World. Write Paul an E-mail

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