With nearly all business events cancelled for 2020, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) estimates the local economy could lose $35.7 billion in direct expenditure over the next 12 months.
BECA predicts that a further $17.2 billion in direct value to the economy will be wiped out – on top of the loss of direct expenditure – as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has rapidly and indefinitely closed down events in Australia.
It comes after the council revealed a startling $2.5 billion is being shaved from the economy each month due to mandatory limitations on event sizes and social distancing constraints, introduced to arrest the spread of the virus.
Staffing losses across the industry are estimated to hit more than 92,000 between the end of 2019 and 30 June 2020, BECA found.
Of those staff already laid off between the end of 2019 to March 2020, four in five (78 per cent) were casual or freelance workers, while one in five (22 per cent) were employed on a permanent basis.
On a broader scale, three in five businesses working in the industry (59 per cent) believe it will take them a year or longer to recover once COVID-19 is no longer impacting health.
BECA chair Vanessa Findlay said the council’s Response and Recovery Framework had been created with the vision to sustain events over an uncertain 12 coming months.
“The industry was first to feel the impacts when gatherings were banned following the pandemic outbreak, and it is looking increasingly likely that gatherings will be last activity that is reinstated,” she said.
“This is why, on behalf of the industry, BECA has moved quickly to develop the coordinated COVID-19 Business Events Response and Recovery Framework and is working closely with government on its implementation.
“Supported by a well-developed policy aligned to Australia’s competitive strengths, the business events industry will play a critical role in the recovery and rebound of Australia’s broader economy from this pandemic.”
The events industry is one of the quiet achievers of the Australian economy, growing at around six per cent annually since 2014.
In FY19, it directly generated over $35 billion in economic activity and employed more than 229,000 people across a range of sectors and trades.
However, the industry now faces 100 per cent loss of revenue due to the escalating effects of COVID-19, on top of the bushfires earlier this year, BECA said.
Featured image: iStock.com/Chinnapong