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AACB: JobKeeper extension will ‘keep businesses alive’

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) said extending the government’s JobKeeper scheme for another six months from September had given the country’s devastated business events industry a lifeline.

The industry employs 229,000 people in Australia, almost half of whom (47 per cent) have received payments under the scheme since travel restrictions were introduced to combat the spread of Covid-19. Almost all (96) per cent of event businesses have turned to JobKeeper, which has been extended to March 28th, 2021, for help.

Last year (2018-2019) the events industry contributed $35 billion to the national economy.

Andrew Hiebl

AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl, said: “Retaining JobKeeper has been a priority for Australia’s convention bureaux in supporting their 1,800 members and stakeholders across the country. The wage subsidy scheme has been vital to keeping the industry alive.”

Without an extension of the government’s JobKeeper program, the tourism and events supply chain would have faced financial ruin, risking the immediate future of the business events industry, according to the AACB. The industry was one of the first affected by COVID restrictions, the hardest hit and potentially the last to recover with the long lead times in preparing for business events.

Collaborative efforts under the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), have called for additional targeted support for the business events industry. The COVID-19 Business Events Recovery and Rebound Framework, which builds confidence and creates momentum towards the industry’s future has been well received by government.

This week, Prime Minister Morrison acknowledged there were businesses still experiencing a 90 per cent reduction in turnover and included business events among the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus restrictions.

To aid the recovery of the Australia’s business events industry, AACB have dedicated resources to support BECA by working in conjunction with the BECA chair to advocate for business events and the industry’s recovery following the pandemic.

AACB president Michael Matthews said: “AACB’s support has been vital to raising the profile of business events and the impact the industry has on the Australian economy. The board has fully backed AACB’s pivot to supporting BECA and the critical ‘one voice’ advocacy undertaken to put the business events industry in the strongest possible position to get through these incredibly tough times”.

Ahead of restrictions on the industry being lifted, Australia’s convention bureaux are dedicated to supporting their members and stakeholders by working in close collaboration with event organisers, hotels, venues and service providers and continuing to plan for business events, which will drive jobs across the tourism and events supply chain and help aid the recovery of key industries beyond the visitor economy.