The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has called upon the Commonwealth Government to extend the money available under the Business Events Grants Program to the industry immediately.
Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA’s chief executive said the association’s members need the AUSTRADE Business Events Grants Program to urgently reopen for new applications.
â€śIn September 2020, AUSTRADE opened applications for exhibitors and potential exhibitors, with A$50 million (US$38.6 million) available for assistance. The EEAA is aware of many exhibitors across a range of exhibition types and locations applying for and being approved and welcomed the speed with which AUSTRADE acted to process applications,â€ť she said.
The fund was closed temporarily at the end of March. While the closure was announced as temporary, it isnâ€™t clear whether there are funds leftover from the original A$50 million to assist the industry.
â€śIf there is money left after currently approved applications, EEAA calls for applications to urgently reopen to distribute any remaining money.
The events sector was one of the first to be impacted by the Federal Governmentâ€™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,â€ť said Sagripanti.
Research conducted by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) shows the catastrophic impact of the pandemic and related closures on events: 96 per cent of events in 2021 were either cancelled or postponed.
Follow up research by BECA in late October 2020, showed the pandemicâ€™s effects continued, with 62 per cent of event owners and planners cancelling or postponing events in 1Q2021. For the period January â€“ June 2021, 57 per cent said they had cancelled or postponed events.
Sagripanti said: â€śThrough 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.
“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,â€ť concluded Sagripanti.