The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), calls for the Commonwealth Government to extend the money available under the Business Events Grants Program to the industry immediately.
As an active member of the peak body for the events sector, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), EEAA supports BECA’s pre-budget submission which calls for targeted support to add the rebuild of the Business Events industry.
Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA Chief Executive said EEAA’s members need the AUSTRADE Business Events Grants Program to urgently re-open for new applications.
“In September 2020, AUSTRADE opened applications for exhibitors and potential exhibitors, with $50M available for assistance. The EEAA is aware of many exhibitors across a range of exhibition types and locations applying for and being approved and welcomed the speed with which AUSTRADE acted to process applications,” she said.
The fund was closed temporarily at the end of March. While the closure was announced as temporary, it isn’t clear whether there are funds left over from the original $50M available to assist the industry.
“If there is money left after currently approved applications, EEAA calls for applications to urgently re-open to distribute any remaining money.
The Events sector was one of the first to be impacted by the Federal Government’s changes to mass gathering rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is one of the last to be reactivated. Many businesses, which are privately owned SMEs, lost over 90% of their income, and have had no alternative ways of generating revenue due to these restrictions,” said Ms Sagripanti.
Research conducted by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) shows the catastrophic impact of the pandemic and related closures on events: 96% of events in 2021 were either cancelled or postponed to 2021 and beyond.
Follow up research by BECA in late October 2020, showed the pandemic’s effects continued, with 62% of event owners and planners cancelling or postponing events in Q1 2021. For the period January – June 2021, 57% said they had cancelled or postponed events.
Pre-COVID-19, the Business Events sector was valued at:
- 229,000 jobs in FY19 compare to 179,000 in FY142
- $35.7 billion in direct industry contribution in FY19 (up from $28.0 billion in FY2014)
- 43.7 million people attended business events in Australia in FY19
- The number of business events in Australia increased from 412,000 (FY14) 484,000 (FY19)
Ms Sagripanti said: “Through the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) we worked with organisations across the sector to get the fairest possible structure for distribution of the fund, and one which would have had the biggest impact supporting employment across our sector.
“While the fund was not structured as the industry would have chosen, EEAA warmly welcomed the speed with which the fund was established.
Exhibitions and events have restarted, but at a much lower level than pre-COVID. Giving the industry modest government assistance is the confidence boost needed to exhibit and get employment back to normal,” concluded Ms Sagripanti.