With restrictions lifted and people encouraged to return to their workplaces, the Australian state of Victoria is getting back to business, including the resumption of Victoria’s business events sector.
On 2 March the Hon Martin Pakula, minister for tourism, sport and major events, met with senior representatives of the industry associations, Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), Meeting and Events Australia (MEA) and Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), as well as leaders from the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Melbourne Convention Bureau to discuss short term and long term measures to accelerate the re-start of this vital sector.
Pre-Covid, business events contributed over A$12bn to the Victorian economy and employed 85,000 people. The sector has been severely impacted over the past two years, but the focus has now firmly shifted to supporting the return of conferences and exhibitions to the city and regions, resulting in the creation of jobs and a significant economic contribution to the State.
The recent Victorian Government announcement that tickets for conferences and exhibitions are included in the A$30m rebate scheme being offered to Victorian consumers was welcomed by the industry groups. “Now is the time to conduct or attend a meeting, conference or exhibition in the coming weeks and months, not only to commercially benefit the participant and their organisation but the broader Victorian economy and business event community,” a joint statement from the groups read.
The recent lifting of further restrictions was also welcomed by the industry which has demonstrated business events can be conducted safely and effectively with COVID-safe measures in place, that don’t compromise the experience. The sector has seen a number of large conferences and exhibitions run over recent weeks.
Gathering in a professional business environment at events is crucial to knowledge sharing, professional development, trade relations and the creation of valuable connections and relationships, the groups emphasised. “Business events facilitate state and national interactions in our city and our regions whilst attracting international participation given our borders are open to the world again.”
During the meeting with the minister, the industry groups detailed the positive, wide reaching direct economic impact that business events provide the network of suppliers including but not limited to venues, hotels, airlines, organisers, food and beverage suppliers, speakers, technicians, exhibition specialists and transportation providers contributing to the sustainability of these organisations and the professionals they employ.
The question of how to address the immediate talent shortages for the industry was also discussed and the representatives reiterated that industry stakeholders are focused on retaining seasoned event professionals while welcoming new talent and skills to the sector to secure its ongoing success. The industry groups said they were engaged with the State Government in relation to short and long term strategies to assist in rebuilding this valued workforce.
Photo: L-R: Peter Jones – MD Peter Jones Special Events; Felicia Mariani – CEO, Victoria Tourism Industry Council; Anne Jamieson – CEO, Saxton Speakers; Julia Swanson – CEO, Melbourne Convention Bureau; Peter King – chief executive, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre; The Hon Minister Martin Pakula, minister for tourism, sport and major events; Kate Smith – MD, WALDRONSMITH Management; Gab Robinson – MD, Harry the Hirer; Matt Pearce – director, Talk2Media.