The Federal Government will support Australia’s business events industry with $50 million in funding via a new Business Events Grant program, which forms part of the Relief and Recovery Fund providing assistance to sectors, regions and communities affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Under the Business Events Grants program, Australian businesses exhibiting at an approved business meeting, convention, conference and incentives event in 2021 will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs (between $10,000 and $250,000).
Grants would be paid upfront to help with the costs of businesses attending pre-approved business events, for example, exhibition space hire, the design and manufacture of displays, travel and accommodation.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) said that support would target larger multi-day business events that promote Australian Government’s industry priorities and sectors.
A schedule of pre-approved events (and associated costs eligible for funding) will be developed by Austrade in consultation with other Commonwealth, State and Territory Government partners and the business events sector.
Once a schedule of approved events has been developed, applicants will be able to apply via the Business Grants Hub through a submission and assessment process.
Business events important to boost the economy
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,” Prime Minister Morrison 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.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the program would provide opportunities and encourage businesses from regional Australia to attend events in their own backyard.
“With many international trade shows out of reach for the time being, making it less expensive and easier for regional businesses to attend events in Australia will also present new opportunities to connect with and secure new customers,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Business events encourage domestic travel and the more events we can lock in, the more people we can get flowing through our airports, on planes and staying in hotels around the country.”
BECA to work with Government
The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) welcomed the funding announcement, saying that the business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries by COVID-19, and may be one of the last to recover due to the long lead times between booking and holding major business events.
However, BECA’s release leads event organisers to believe that the grant program will be available to business events themselves, stating:
“Under the Australian Business Events Grants Program, 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). “
NPN can’t find any reference to grants available to business event organisers in the Australian Government Business Events Grant program information. NPN has reached out to BECA for clarification.
BECA has said it will now lead the industry’s work with the Government on the design and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program. Its goal is to get money flowing throughout the supply chain as soon as possible.
BECA Chair Dr Vanessa Findlay said “Australia’s business events industry is deeply appreciative of the Federal Government’s support through this grants program.
“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.
“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.”
Last year over 480,000 business events were held in Australia and over 43 million people attended a business event in the form of a meeting, convention, exhibition or incentive event.
In a recent survey conducted by BECA, 67 per cent of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2020 and 48 per cent of businesses said they don’t have any business events confirmed for 2021 either.
While Australia’s state and territory borders remain closed, the recovery of the business events industry is seriously impeded. BECA calls for clear guidelines that provide predictability and transparency in the way the borders are being managed so businesses can plan and book their next business event with confidence.
BECA’s work with the Government, and implementation of the Australian Business Events Grants Program, will allow the industry to move to the next phase of recovery and rebound.
For more information, visit Austrade’s Business Events Grant Program page.