The Morrison government will pledge $50 million to revive Australia’s business events industry, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing exhibition and conference companies to their knees.
Events businesses will be able to apply for between $10,000 and $250,000 in grant funding to cover up to 50% of their costs under the program, which sits within the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.
With international borders closed and strict COVIDSafe regulations in place, the business events industry has ground to a halt amid the coronavirus crisis, with peak body the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) claiming 96% of scheduled events for 2020 have been cancelled or postponed.
It’s not entirely clear, however, when the grants will be paid. After all, international and some domestic borders remain closed, so the prospect of a resurgence in business events could be difficult to coordinate.
Scene Change co-founder Ian Whitworth says the grants will help the industry kick-start activity under audience size restrictions that would otherwise make many events non-viable.
“The package will be very helpful to kick-start activity in a sector that’s among the worst hit,” Whitworth tells SmartCompany.
“It employs 229,000 people, as many as mining, and it’s been at a standstill since March.
“Business events generate a lot of hidden innovation and deal-making that flow to the rest of the economy.
“Few events are financially viable with COVID-spaced audience sizes, so these subsidies will help make them happen.”
BECA chair Vanessa Findlay says the industry will work with the government on an implementation plan for the grant 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.”