With the Federal Budget to be delivered in less than a week, the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) is calling for an urgent extension of Austrade’s Business Events Grants Program.
The Federal Government announced an extension of the $50 million funding program on 11 March 2021, however the program closed on 30 March 2021.
Austrade stated the program “may re-open in April 2021 if all the funding has not been exhausted”, however it still remains closed.
EEAA chief executive Claudia Sagripanti is calling for the Government to reopen the program immediately to support EEAA members and the wider business events industry.
“If there is money left after currently approved applications, EEAA calls for applications to urgently re-open to distribute any remaining money,” she said.
“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 per cent of their income, and have had no alternative ways of generating revenue due to these restrictions.”
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Research conducted by BECA shows the 96 per cent of events in 2020 were either cancelled or postponed as a result of the pandemic, while follow up research showed the pandemic’s effects continued with 62 per cent of event owners and planners cancelling or postponing events in Q1 2021.
Pre-COVID-19, the business events sector was valued at $35.7 billion in direct industry contribution in for the 2019 financial year.