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Government breathes $50m of life into events sector

The recovery of business events in 2021 will be boosted by a government cash injection.

Businesses across Australia will be encouraged to plan, attend and support events, trade shows and conferences as part of an AUD$50 million injection from the Federal Government.

Announced today by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the Business Events Exhibitor Grants program will offer upfront grants of between AUD$10k and AUD$250k to businesses exhibiting at an approved business meeting, convention, conference or incentive event in 2021, provided the amount coming from the fund is matched by the business. The contribution will cover up to 50% of the costs associated with exhibiting at the event.

initiative is expected to generate and support thousands of jobs in a sector which has ground to a virtual halt as a result of the pandemic. The funds will help with hiring costs for exhibition spaces, design and manufacture of displays, travel and accommodation, the government 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 Prime Minister said.

Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, said getting events back into the calendar will help businesses supporting around 230,000 employees turn the corner toward recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to around 95% of business events conducted in 2020 so far either cancelled or postponed, with the vast majority of those that took place happening in the first three months of the year before lockdowns were put in place.

The funds come from the government’s AUD$1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, which has been designed to support regions, communities and industry sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.

L-R Dean Long, AAoA and Michael Johnson, TAA

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, welcomed the funding injection, adding that conferences and events were a key revenue stream for hotels and motels, especially those in capital cities which have been hit hard by border closures and travel restrictions.

“Just this week, we had one of our own accommodation sector’s key conferences, AHICE, successfully in Sydney and there was a sense of relief in the fact that face to face conferences can be held and work well even with the many restrictions in place.

“We look forward to working with the Business Events Community in creating and supporting conferences, events and exhibitions,” Long added.

Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson, joined the chorus of praise for the funding boost, saying the news was welcome for CBD hotels reliant on the conference market as a key revenue stream.

“This is a good initiative and will particularly benefit the many accommodation hotels in major cities across the country who rely on the conference and events market,” Johnson said.

“These conference venues and CBD hotel ballrooms and conference rooms have been virtually sitting empty since March. They are ready to get back to work and it will be great if businesses do their bit and hold more events and conferences in their home towns.”

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