The exhibition industry has been one of, if not the worst affected industries as a result of Covid. Unable to operate from March last year, and now battling to come back by dealing with the different state rules and venue openings that Victoria has, has now impacted the industry with another major blow by taking over industry purpose built facilities as vaccine centres.
This is directly opposite to other east coast state facilities that have ensured they remain open for business to the exhibition and convention sector. The state governments in NSW and Qld have set up vaccine centres in empty spaces, which both creates income for unused facilities but more importantly has no impact of other sectors, and especially one of the business sectors doing it tough. It is clear Victoria seems to be under the misconception other states are being used as vaccine centres, they are not!
It defies any common sense, understanding or acknowledgement by the Victorian State Government of the exhibition, convention and meeting sector. If they really understood and appreciated what we deliver to the local economy, they would have identified unused facilities and not used facilities for an industry desperate to resume to some form of normality. It’s just incredible.
The decision is even made worse given how many Victorian ministers and government departments have had representation from various leaders within the industry and with them saying they understand and appreciate the damage and challenges the last 15 months have thrown up, clearly they don’t. It’s pure lip service, as by their actions we are being screwed over yet again! Why is it NSW and other states have been able to utilise empty buildings and leave the exhibition event space alone so that businesses can resume? What part does Victoria not understand?
All we need is an iron clad guarantee the three major facilities will re-open for the purpose they were built for and are back in action from July 1. As of today no Victorian venue can give us this guarantee. How do the Victorian venues, and government, expect us to commit when we have repeatedly said we need a minimum of three months to get a show going?
Victoria arguably had the biggest impact on the exhibition and event industry as the whole state essentially closed far longer than every other state and Victoria has been far slower to reopening and resuming any normality in attendance capacities. What makes it worse again is the MCEC has released a number of media stories claiming increased capacity when it not the case. There are some thoughts that the lack of urgency from at least two of the venues as they are Government owned.
The Victorian Government, who arguably has caused more distress and negatively impacted on the industry have held feedback sessions yet seem to be totally oblivious to the situation now unfolding where shows are being totally destroyed and family businesses are going broke in the process. Victorians used to have on their number plates, “Victoria on the move”, unfortunately the only moves currently are ones killing an industry desperate to resume. We need to have a definite answer when the venues will reopen to full use as they were intended for the industry.