Preparing for recovery and the return of events

29 May 2020

It goes without saying that Australia’s business events industry, like the rest of the world’s, has been devastated by COVID-19. In a few short weeks our sector – worth $35.7 billion a year to the economy – shutdown, impacting businesses and livelihoods up and down the supply chain and across the country.

During this incredibly challenging time it has been heartening to see Australia’s industry come together to fight for survival and plan a route to recovery. This is being done via two key channels – at an industry level through the Business Event Council of Australia (BECA) and in partnership with the broader tourism industry, via The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Tourism Restart Taskforce.

As CEO of ICC Sydney and Deputy-Chair of BECA, I have been involved with both groups and am using my voice to raise awareness of the economic, cultural and social importance of our industry, and the need for urgent support measures. This includes a call for business events to be classified as highly structured and managed events, more akin to a workplace than mass gatherings. This distinction is paramount to enabling our industry’s rapid restart.

As an industry we also have a critical role to play in instilling confidence in Government and clients to make this distinction and enable us to safely restart. To this end, we are readying ourselves to host events in a world that will face the ongoing threat of COVID-19 for some time. As an industry we are putting in place guidelines and protocols that will ensure the safety of all events as they restart across Australia.

At ICC Sydney we have developed our own enhanced cleanliness and safety guidelines, which will be embedded throughout the venue and operations going forward. These take lead from our parent company ASM Global’s VenueShield Program and the Australian Government’s COVID-19 safe work guidelines. They will ensure clients, visitors and our team have the highest trust and confidence to host events once again.

As we continue to take these steps towards recovery, both as an industry and venue, it is heartening to see the green shoots of recovery in Australia. In our home state of New South Wales interstate travel begins from 1 June, with the roll back of further restrictions via the Government’s three step recovery plan due over the next two months. While we await confirmation of the lifting of restrictions that will allow for the meaningful return of our events, I am confident that by the end of the year we will be starting to host events again.

What gives me this confidence is not only the steps being taken by our industry and the Government, but also our clients. Every day at ICC Sydney we speak with clients who say they are ready to start running events as soon as allowed. While the world might have got used to Zoom calls, it seems nothing can replace the value exchange of coming together and meeting in person.

ICC Sydney looks forward to opening our doors once again, to help these clients host world class events.