Australia News

AIME soldiers on despite coronavirus concerns

Next week’s event will proceed as planned, with “minor impact” on buyer and seller numbers.

As the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) prepares to open its doors next week, organiser Talk2 Media & Events has brushed off travels restrictions and fears surrounding the coronavirus.

Speaking to Biz Events Asia, Talk2 Media & Events CEO, Matt Pearce, said Chinese hosted buyers made up less than five per cent of the total, so travel restrictions imposed by the Australian Federal Government have only had a “minor impact” on buyer and seller numbers. 

“We’re trying to manage the hysteria and the misinformation that is circling,” he said. “Hosted buyers from across the APAC region are still coming and we’ve spoken to a number of them to allay concerns.

“We understand that people are scared and nervous, and we’ve tried to mitigate this by being as flexible as possible, including re-routing buyers from Europe who were concerned about transiting through Asia.”

The 2020 show, which will take place as scheduled on 17–19 February at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, is expecting more than 330 exhibitors and 2,500 attendees.

The outbound Chinese incentive market provides big business for Australia and the coronavirus outbreak will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects. For AIME, at least, Pearce says that his team is working with sellers to identify buyers in secondary markets across APAC, and that Chinese buyers will return in 2021.

The recent Australian bushfire crisis has also sharpened focus on the domestic market, with Tourism Australia recently releasing a campaign to encourage meeting planners to ‘Event Here this Year’.

Considering the dual blow that the Australian industry has faced in recent months, we suspect conversations at AIME will focus on a collective effort to support Australia’s regional communities, and formulate strategies to mitigate the loss of business across the APAC region.

Biz Events Asia is attending AIME and will provide live updates via Facebook and Twitter.