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Latest AACB analysis finds artificial inflation of business events in Australia

Long-term investment from governments critical as wins and bids are postponed or withdrawn.

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has released its latest Forward Calendar that highlights the immediate impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on the pipeline of international business events secured for Australia.

While 373 confirmed wins represent a strong calendar of international business events for Australia’s future, 35 per cent have been postponed to 2021 and beyond. According to the analysis, this movement artificially inflates the future pipeline for the country.

With unprecedented competition for the high-yield business events market expected from countries around the world, the association says the industry will require long-term support from governments. 

AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl said, “The global pandemic has shut down Australia’s business events industry for 2020 and significantly disrupted the forward pipeline.” 

“Ongoing long-term investment will therefore be essential to attract international conventions and exhibitions as part of Australia’s economic recovery plan, not only to support the visitor economy but the recovery of our key industries.” 

A permanent extension and boost of the Business Events Bid Fund, in addition to Tourism Australia’s annual appropriation, is therefore required beyond the programme’s initial three-year period, scheduled to conclude at the end of this financial year. 

The report also indicates that 59 international business events that were expected to be held in Australia this year have been cancelled, with at least one in four of these pivoting to virtual.

Likewise, 20 per cent of all international bid opportunities in play have been postponed, while a further 30 bids were withdrawn before a decision was made. 

This year was set to see 145,000 delegates gather in Australia across 183 international business events, which was forecasted to contribute over AUD420 million (USD306 million) to the visitor economy.

However, the July edition of the Forward Calendar shows that 129 postponed events have impacted more than 86,500 delegates due to COVID-19 – delaying some AUD226 million reaching Australian tourism and events businesses. 

This edition also saw a ‘major crisis’ introduced as a reason for bid decisions impacted by the global pandemic. More than 7.4 per cent of international bids were lost because of the crisis and it was the leading contributor (31 per cent) specifically for corporate bids lost.

Access AACB’s latest Forward Calendar here.