The federal government has announced $50 million in funding to the business events industry in response to the Business Events Council of Australia’s (BECA) Recovery and Rebound Framework, which highlighted the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on business confidence.
BECA and Visual Connections have welcomed the funding announcement saying it will support the restart of Australia’s business events industry, drive confidence and create momentum.
Under the Australian Business Events Grants Program, approved business events, including conventions and exhibitions, can apply for grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs (between $10,000 and $250,000).
The initiative is part of the federal government’s $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund which is designed to support sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Visual Connections is a member of the Exhibition and Events Association of Australia and was involved with BECA in lobbying for this relief from the start of the process.
Visual Connections CEO Peter Harper said: “Visual Connections recognises the high value of events to businesses in our own and many other sectors, and welcomes the announcement that the Federal Government is willing to inject these substantial funds into the business events industry.
“We look forward to receiving further detail over the coming days and weeks about eligibility and how the funds can be accessed.”
Visual Connections’ next show is PacPrint in September/October 2021 and more light shed on the matter would dictate the support that the event, and other events will receive in future.
“While we are unsure what impact this new funding will have on that show, it can only be good news for the industry. [It’s] baby steps, but a great start to get business events open again,” Harper added.
According to BECA, the business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries as a result of COVID-19 and may be one of the last to recover due to the long lead times between booking and holding a business event.
It mentioned that by March this year, 96 per cent of business events scheduled for 2020 in Australia had been cancelled or postponed.
“Last year over 480,000 business events were held in Australia and over 43 million people attended a business event in the form of a meeting, convention, exhibition or incentive event. In a recent survey conducted by BECA, 67 per cent of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2020 and 48 per cent of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2021 either,” it mentioned.
“While Australia’s state and territory borders remain closed, the recovery of the business events industry is seriously impeded. BECA calls 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.”
BECA chair Dr Vanessa Findlay said the impact of COVID-19 on business events has cost Australia’s visitor economy $35.7 billion and this contribution, along with the employment of 229,000 people would enable the business events industry can recover as quickly as possible.
“Australia’s business events industry is deeply appreciative of the Federal Government’s support through this grants program. Our industry has been devastated by COVID-19. We can now look to rebuilding business confidence and kick-starting momentum across the entire business events supply chain – for meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions,” she said.
“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.”
BECA will be working with industry and the government on the design and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program.
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