With the JobKeeper program ending this weekend, business events and tourism industry leaders are calling for urgent government support.
Spiro Anemogiannis, president of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), said there is a “real possibility” that some industry businesses will be unable to continue when the subsidy scheme ends on Sunday, 28 March 2021.
“As the industry gradually swings into action, we still cannot sit back and think everything is back to normal,” he said in a member update.
“The continual failure by governments to value the business events industry as an important part of the economy is still very much evident.”
A recent survey by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) found 47 per cent of event industry businesses are likely to make more staff redundant once JobKeeper ends, while 23 per cent of businesses will close without further government support.
Anemogiannis made mention of the Federal Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants program, which has been criticised by some industry professionals.
“We have welcomed the introduction of the Business Events Grants Scheme but the delivery of this has been and continues to be clunky at best and unworkable at worst,” he said.
“BECA, with the support of the EEAA and other associations, continues to address these inefficiencies and problems but when a sector does not really have its very own bespoke federal minister, it’s a struggle getting heard.”
In Victoria, a convoy of event industry professionals took to the streets last Thursday, circling the State Parliament in 40 branded event vehicles.
With horns blaring, the group were demanding more attention and support from government leaders.
The protest resulted in discussions in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Victorian Parliament, however Simon Thewlis, organiser of Save Victorian Events, said the government’s response shows the major challenges still facing the industry.
“Our event industry needs government support at both federal and state level,” he said.
“[Last Thursday] was again a reminder that we can get our voices heard in parliaments and that we need to. And, that we still have a lot of work to do.”
Hotel industry writes to the PM
Meanwhile, the tourism and accommodation industries have also renewed calls for targeted, temporary assistance post-JobKeeper, as occupancy rates across Melbourne and Sydney fall below 35 per cent.
The Australian Hotels Association, with support from Tourism Accommodation Australia, wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week outlining the situation and asking for assistance.
“There’s no doubt the end of JobKeeper will create unnecessary hardship for those businesses upon which governments have imposed temporary, targeted restrictions to limit the gathering and movement of people to help save Australian lives,” said AHA national CEO Stephen Ferguson.
“Given the vaccine rollout is predicted to be completed in about six months, what we are asking for are targeted, temporary measures of support.
“It is vital in the intervening period our businesses survive and be able to retain their skilled employees so we are there on the other side of the pandemic – now is not the time to pull the drawbridge up on those still on the road to recovery.”
Lobbying efforts continue
Anemogiannis said EEAA will continue its lobbying efforts at all levels, and will continue to support BECA in its work as well.
“We will continue to lobby all governments as always and contrary to some other media reports, continue to influence policy via BECA at federal level,” he said.
He noted the EEAA is having further meetings with the Federal Government this week and is in constant conversation with state leaders.
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