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Association leaders target 2022-23 for return to overseas meetings

Association meeting planners are eager to return to in-person events once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted – according to a new report painting a rosy future for international conferences.

The Business Events Consumer Demand Project (CDP), released by Tourism Australia, surveyed more than 500 senior managers in 11 of Australia’s key source markets, including the UK, North America, China, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

In a clear sign of pent-up demand for in-person events, nearly half of the association respondents (45%) have held events in the past 10 months, including those with physical attendees.

Almost three quarters of association decision makers (72%) said they were likely to resume overseas events in the next 18-24 months. Less than a quarter of the 517 surveyed said they were uncomfortable with overseas travel.

Respondents indicated that they’d hold the same or greater number of events (82 per cent) and post-pandemic event budgets could be higher as organisations tap into savings made in the past 18 months.

However, primary deciding factors cannot be separated from the pandemic — including restrictions on the number of event attendees, and the Covid ‘safety status’ of a destination, which includes its vaccine rollout.

Top 5 factors for association decision makers:

  1. Safe destination (excluding Covid)
  2. Effective vaccine rollout
  3. Destination that has handled the pandemic well
  4. Associated travel costs
  5. Strength of the business events industry

“By understanding what influences decision makers when choosing a destination for business events, we can deliver strategies that capitalise on these factors and ultimately help secure more business for Australia once international travel resumes,” said Tourism Australia’s Executive General Manager Commercial & Business Events Australia, Robin Mack.

Just like in 2020’s CDP report, Australia continues to appeal as an international events destination, with eight in 10 association decision makers favouring the country’s business events facilities, clean cities, good infrastructure, and appealing climate.

However, as a result of continued border closures, the report notes that Australia is not currently included in the consideration set amongst those planning events in the medium term, even as the Northern Hemisphere opens up to wider travel opportunities.

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