The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the government in Canberra’s A$50m funding announcement to support the restart of Australia’s business events industry.
The new targeted support is designed to drive confidence and create momentum, positioning the industry to rebound as market conditions improve.
Under the Australian Business Events Grants Program, approved business events, including meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions, will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50% of their costs (between A$10,000 and A$250,000). This initiative is part of the Morrison-McCormack government’s A$1bn Covid-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, which supports sectors severely affected by the pandemic.
The business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries by Covid-19 and may be one of the last to recover, due to the long lead times between booking and holding a business event. By March this year, 96% of business events scheduled for 2020 in Australia had been cancelled or postponed.
BECA said its close collaboration with government led to the grant announcement, with its Recovery and Rebound Framework highlighting the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the sector and the need for funding to drive business confidence. With a contribution of $35.7bn to the Australian economy, and employment of 229,000 people, BECA underlines how important it is that the business events industry can recover as quickly as possible.
BECA will now lead the industry’s work with government on the design and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program. The association said its immediate goal was to get money flowing throughout the supply chain as soon as possible.
BECA’s chair Dr Vanessa Findlay (pictured) said: “Australia’s business events industry is deeply appreciative of the federal government’s support through this grants program. We can now look to rebuilding business confidence and kick-starting momentum across the entire business events supply chain. BECA’s goal is to not only support the business events industry itself, but to also maximise the contribution business events make to the recovery of the wider economy. This support package will be pivotal to that.”
Last year over 480,000 business events were held in Australia and over 43m people attended a business event in the form of a meeting, convention, exhibition or incentive event. In a recent survey conducted by BECA, 67% of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2020 and 48% of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2021 either.
While Australia’s state and territory borders remain closed, the recovery of the business events industry is seriously impeded. BECA is calling for clear guidelines that provide predictability and transparency in the way the borders are being managed so businesses can plan and book their next business event with confidence.
Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) president Michael Matthews, also welcomed the government announcement. “Australia’s convention bureaux are mindful of the devastating impact the coronavirus has had on their 1,800 members and industry stakeholders across the country. This funding will have a monumental impact on business confidence and the return of business events in Australia,” he said.
BECA deputy chair and representative for the Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG), Geoff Donaghy also welcomed the initiative. “The funding package will not only help boost client confidence to start planning events again but, critically, it also acknowledges the enormous economic, cultural and social value of the business events industry to Australia”.
Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) chair Kate Smith, said: “This is much needed support for our industry and recognises the contribution business events can make to the recovery of our economy.”
While president of the Professional Conference Organisers Association (PCOA), Barry Neame, added: “The establishment of the federal recovery fund is a wonderful and timely announcement for PCOs and their clients across Australia, trying to run a business event during the most challenging conditions. Once state borders open, with this support we will do out bit to get the Australian economy back on its feet.