Industry bigwigs call for NSW government plan to restart business events in Sydney

Sydney’s business events industry is calling on the NSW government to introduce a restart plan, and warns inaction threatens the survival of jobs across the city and regions.

Representatives of Sydney’s business events industry have joined forces with the Committee for Sydney and Business Sydney to create the Sydney Business Events Coalition to pave a pathway for the return of business events now.

The coalition comprises Sydney-based members of key association bodies and organisations including Geoff Donaghy (deputy chair of Business Events Council of Australia and CEO of ICC Sydney), Spiro Anemogiannis (president of the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia), Paul Nicolaou (executive director of Business Sydney), Karen Sainsbury (NSW councillor of the Professional Conference Organisers Association), Peter McDonald (CEO of Meetings & Events Australia), Dean Long (CEO of the Accommodation Association), Michael Johnson (NSW and national CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia), Ehssan Veiszadeh (deputy CEO of the Committee for Sydney) and Andrew Hiebl (CEO of Association of Australian Convention Bureaux).

According to the new coalition, if Sydney’s events industry doesn’t get certainty that events can soon proceed, they will find it increasingly difficult to retain their workforce, and event organisers will be forced to again postpone or cancel events or take them elsewhere.

The Sydney Business Events Coalition is calling for:

  1. Inclusion of business events in the industries to re-open to vaccinated customers in October.
  2. Clearly identifying the vaccine passport process through a public health order.
  3. Developing a vaccine passport customer experience that translates nationally and internationally.
  4. Reopening at one person per two square metres.

“The survival of businesses across the events supply chain are at risk,” said Sydney Business Events Coalition spokesperson Geoff Donaghy.

“The industry needs the lifeline of a reopening timeline that includes a vaccine passport now.

“Through its visitor spend, coupled with its deep and far-reaching supply chain, the return of business events will drive the recovery of Sydney’s economy.”

The business events industry contributes $36 billion to the Australian economy, the lion’s share of which is delivered within Greater Sydney, with impacts reaching across regional NSW.

Business events visitors spend over $800 per day, more than three times that of a leisure tourist.

“In a usual year, delegates and attendees at events at ICC Sydney alone contribute almost $1 billion to the local economy,” said Donaghy.

“Less than 10 per cent of the economic impact of business events is generated within the venue. The rest is shared with the local economy, including hotels, restaurants, tourism operators and transport operators.”

Committee for Sydney’s Ehssan Veiszadeh said the NSW capital was losing out to global competitors.

“It’s so heartening that the NSW government is planning to reopen our economy as our vaccine numbers rise, but the business events industry must be part of that plan,” Veiszadeh said.

“Sydney risks losing investment and talent attraction opportunities without certainty from the government that the business events industry can restart safely soon.”

Business Sydney’s incoming executive director, Paul Nicolaou, said the economic impact of business events was a major driver of the city’s economy.

“Business events not only attract the brightest minds to our city to solve the world’s challenges – they are also a key driver of the local economy,” he said.

“Event attendees dine at local restaurants, stay in city hotels mid-week and visit our local tourism attractions.

“Sydney’s economy will not recover until business events return.”

Featured image source: iStock/TkKurikawa