Events industry welcomes $50 million government funding package

The federal government has announced a whopping $50 million funding package to help restart Australia’s business events industry.

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 per cent of their costs (between $10,000 and $250,000).

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 major business event.

According to The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), by March this year, 96 per cent of business events scheduled for 2020 in Australia had been cancelled or postponed.

The funding came out of close collaboration between the government and BECA, as the council’s Recovery and Rebound Framework highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the sector and the need for funding to drive business confidence.

BECA will now lead the industry’s work with the government on the design and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program.

ICC Sydney chief executive and BECA deputy chair Geoff Donaghy said the organisation has worked in close collaboration with the government to deliver this package and will now be the lead industry body to advise on the design and implementation of the program.

“While our industry still faces huge barriers before we can return to business as usual – the biggest of these being capacity limits in states such as NSW and locked interstate and international borders – this announcement is an important first step and acknowledges the enormous economic, cultural and social value of our industry,” he said.

“Most importantly, I hope that this news will help to boost both your own confidence and ability to start planning events once again. Like ICC Sydney, I am sure you are ready to get back to the business of doing what we all do best, running extraordinary events together.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia national CEO Michael Johnson said the government’s new grants program was great news for struggling CBD hotels who rely heavily on the conference market.

“It is good to see the government acknowledge sectors like ours are suffering more than others, but we will continue to suffer until travel around the nation is unrestricted,” he said.

“With international travel uncertain, domestic business including conferencing is our only way out of this hole.

“Health comes first, but our industry will not be able to create jobs and return to anything like profitability until travel between all states and territories is possible.”

Featured image source: iStock/AlenaPaulus