The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has responded to the Federal Government’s latest step in its National Economic Recovery Plan, which included changes to business events funding.
Announced last week, the latest recovery package includes a number of measures relating to the tourism industry, plus a series of revisions to the government’s $50 million Business Events Grants program.
In early February, BECA made recommendations to change several aspects of the program, amid growing criticism from the industry about the funding.
BECA says its feedback was taken into consideration in the announced changes, which include reducing the minimum grant amount to $5,000 extending the support for events scheduled through to 31 March 2022 and increasing the number of delegates covered by the grant.
The council believes the changes will assist in a greater distribution of funds to support event participation and will contribute vital cash flow to the business events supply chain.
But it says results from a recent BECA survey reconfirm the need for targeted support for the business events industry.
“We consider the announcement [on Thursday] as a starting point of what is required by government to support the sector and look forward to continuing our consultation with the government to develop targeted solutions to achieve these outcomes as a priority,” said BECA chair Vanessa Findlay.
“Targeted support is critical to sustain valuable businesses and event professionals in the interim period as is the timing and implementation of this support.”
Industry criticises lack of support
Meanwhile, industry professionals have criticised the latest announcement from the government.
Simon Thewlis, organiser of the Save Victorian Events campaign, said the event industry was once again left empty handed.
“The Federal Government’s $1.2 billion Tourism Support Packages includes nothing for the now decimated business event sector,” he said.
“There has still been no real targeted support for the event industry from the Federal or the Victorian Governments. Our industry has been completely abandoned.”
Gary Fitz-Roy of Expertise Events said the announcement was “a real kick in the guts” and more needs to be done.
“It is paramount the Federal Government use their powers to now get a signed agreement that borders will remain open,” he said.
“Also they need to consider providing funding for a national advertising campaign to encourage the return of exhibitors and visitors to events, enforce consistent COVID rules between each state and, given we have very specific costs associated with running events, come to the party and at least cover these for organisers, venues and suppliers.”
BECA will now continue working with the Federal Government on mechanisms to reinstate in-person business events and to “stem the flow” to virtual meetings, where it says “little economic benefit is realised”.
The council says it is committed to achieving solutions that mitigate risks, such as border uncertainty, preventing event owners from planning and booking future business.