COVID-19 ‘artificially inflates’ business events pipeline

One of the industry's peak bodies says forward bookings aren't all that they seem.

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has released its latest Forward Calendar but says the pipeline has been artificially inflated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are 373 confirmed wins in the pipeline, 35 per cent of those have been postponed into 2021 and beyond.

AACB CEO Andrew Hiebl said this movement artificially inflates the future pipeline for the country.

“The global pandemic has shut down Australia’s business events industry for 2020 and significantly disrupted the forward pipeline,” he said.

With global competition for the high-yield business events market expected to surge, Hiebl said long-term support from governments is crucial to rebuild the Australian business events industry.

“Ongoing long-term investment will therefore be essential to attract international conventions and exhibitions as part of Australia’s economic recovery plan, not only to support the visitor economy, but the recovery of our key industries,” he said.

The AACB wants to see a permanent extension and boost of the Business Events Bid Fund, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of this financial year, in addition to Tourism Australia’s annual appropriation.

What’s in the Forward Calendar?

AACB’s Forward Calendars reveal the stark reality of the pandemic’s impact on business events.

Some 145,000 delegates were expected to gather in Australia this year across 183 international business events, forecast to contribute over $420 million to the visitor economy.

Almost 60 international business events that were expected to be held in Australia this year have been cancelled, with at least one quarter of those pivoting to virtual.

Likewise, 20 per cent of all international bid opportunities in play have been postponed, while a further 30 bids were withdrawn prior to a decision being made.

This edition also saw ‘major crisis’ introduced as a reason for bid decisions impacted by the global pandemic. Over 7.4 per cent of international bids were lost because of the crisis and it was the leading contributor (31 per cent) specifically for corporate bids lost.

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