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Coronavirus ‘could impact’ Australia’s recovery efforts

The Association of Australian Convention Bureau (AACB) has issued a rallying call to event planners across the country to help ‘rebuild’ the country’s visitor economy, which has taken a hit after bush fires ravaged parts of the country.

But the group warned that the situation could be exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak, which may prevent delegates bound for Australia  – particularly incentive travel groups – leaving China.

The association said it ‘commended’ the Australian government’s ‘prompt recovery response’ to the disaster, in particular the launch of a AUS$76 million recovery fund designed to ‘address misinformation about the bush fires and stimulate travel to and within the country’.

The AACB also praised Tourism Australia for its swiftness in activating the fund.

Launched today, the Event Here This Year campaign is a domestic marketing initiative by Business Events Australia that will encourage businesses and event planners to hold their meetings, conventions and exhibitions at home rather than abroad.

AACB CEO Andrew Hiebl said: “Business events are typically long lead, but this targeted campaign will stimulate the short-term domestic meetings market and provide a much-needed boost to their local economies.”

As at July 2019, there were 401 international business events confirmed for Australia through to 2026 on AACB’s Forward Calendar, expected to attract around 475,000 total delegates.

At this time, a further 256 international bids were awaiting a decision, scheduled to take place over the next seven years and could attract more than 250,000 total delegates.

Statistics like these highlight the strategic long-term nature of the business events industry and the potential damage caused by negative sentiment in the present.

Hiebl added: “We look forward to working with the Australian Government and Tourism Australia on any future business events initiatives to further stimulate the industry and jobs.

“Bureaux around the country are also paying attention to the impact of the recent coronavirus forcing travel restrictions out of China and potential impacts to incentive group travel.”

Most of the bush fires have been in eastern Australia. In the worst-hit state, New South Wales, fire has affected more than five million hectares, according to the BBC, destroying more than 2,000 houses and forcing thousands to seek shelter elsewhere.