The Federal Government has announced a $50 million funding boost to support the restart of Australia’s business events industry.
Part of the government’s $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, the Australian Business Events Grants Program will provide targeted support and drive confidence for the sector.
Approved business events, including meetings conventions, incentives and exhibitions, will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs (between $10,000 and $250,000).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s $36 billion business events sector had virtually “ground to a halt” during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry, but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy,” the Prime Minister said.
“This is not only about supporting events companies and venues, but will also be a shot in the arm for a broad range of businesses and the people they employ – whether it’s accommodation providers, those who build exhibitions, caterers, cleaners or those offering audio-visual services.”
The funding follows close collaboration between the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) and government, including putting BECA’s Recovery and Rebound Framework in front of decision makers.
BECA chair Vanessa Findlay welcomed the funding announcement and said the industry is “deeply appreciative” of the support.
“We can now look to rebuilding business confidence and kick-starting momentum across the entire business events supply chain – for meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions,” she said.
“BECA’s goal is to not only support the business events industry itself, but to also maximise the contribution business events make to the recovery of the wider economy. This support package will be pivotal to that.”
BECA will now lead the industry’s work with government on the design and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program.
Findlay said the council’s goal is to get money flowing throughout the supply chain as soon as possible.
Industry leaders react to the news
The leaders of Australia’s peak industry bodies welcomed the news, with many adding the reopening of interstate borders is needed to further support the business events recovery.
Exhibition & Event Association of Australia chief executive Claudia Sagripanti commended the Federal Government on recognising the role exhibitions play as a vehicle for economic recovery.
“This funding will assist in the business events industry getting back on its feet, and doing what it does best – connecting businesses through consumer and trade shows and conferences, to keen buyers of new products and service,” she said.
“We also look forward to the reopening of state borders to support the viability of the industry.”
Association of Australian Convention Bureaux president Michael Matthews welcomed the news, saying the country’s convention bureaux are mindful of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on their 1,800 members.
“This funding will have a monumental impact on business confidence and the return of business events in Australia,” he said.
Geoff Donaghy, BECA deputy chair and representative for the Australian Convention Centres Group said he “wholeheartedly” welcomes the announcement.
“The funding package will not only help boost client confidence to start planning events again but, critically, it also acknowledges of the enormous economic, cultural and social value of the business events industry to Australia,” he said.
Meetings & Events Australia chair Kate Smith also welcomed the news.
“This is much needed support for our industry and recognises the contribution business events can make to the recovery of our economy,” she said.
“All [our members] have been significantly impacted by COVID and this support is a positive step towards our recovery”.
Barry Neame, president of the Professional Conference Organisers Association the funding “is a wonderful and timely announcement for PCOs and their clients across Australia”.
“Once state borders open, with this support we will do our bit to get the Australian economy back on its feet,” he said.