Reopening certainty vital to event industry survival

03 Sep 2021

Sydney’s business events industry is calling for a NSW Government plan to safely restart its operations for fully vaccinated people and warns inaction threatens the survival of jobs across the city and regions.

Representatives of Sydney’s business events industry have joined with the Committee for Sydney and Business Sydney as the Sydney Business Events Coalition to call on the NSW Government to pave a pathway for the return of business events now.

After 10 weeks in lockdown, and with another four to go, Sydney is holding on to event bookings from October through to the end of the year.  If we don’t give businesses certainty now that events can proceed, they will find it increasingly difficult to retain their workforce and event organisers will be forced to again postpone or cancel events or take them elsewhere.

The Sydney Business Events Coalition is calling for:

1) Inclusion of business events in the industries to re-open to vaccinated customers in October
The business events industry generates 229,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs nationally. That means hundreds of thousands of jobs are currently impacted across Sydney and regional New South Wales. We urge the NSW Government to include our industry in its reopening plans, expected in mid-October.

2) Clearly identifying the vaccine passport process through a public health order
The industry is currently working through its operational readiness, but needs NSW Government leadership to finalise processes and reopen to vaccinated attendees.

If we act now, business events could return to pre-COVID levels within two to three years.  If we do not act now, it could take four to five years or longer.

Alongside our global competitors, our interstate competitors are open for business.  For international events that rotate around the globe, we could be waiting a decade before they return to Sydney.

3) Developing a vaccine passport customer experience that translates nationally and internationally
We are a national industry and require a national model for success. Our customers, attendees and partners move around the nation, and indeed the world. The customer experience should be considerate of visitors from interstate and overseas.

4) Reopening at one person per two square metres
Business events are highly controlled, stage-managed gatherings and must reopen with operating procedures of at least one person per two square metres to be viable.

“The survival of businesses across the events supply chain are at risk,” Sydney Business Events Coalition spokesperson, Geoff Donaghy said.

“The industry needs the lifeline of a reopening timeline that includes a vaccine passport now.
“Through its visitor spend, coupled with its deep and far reaching supply chain, the return of business events will drive the recovery of Sydney’s economy.”

The business events industry contributes $36 billion to the Australian economy, the lion’s share of which is delivered within Greater Sydney, with impacts reaching across regional NSW.  Business events visitors spend over $800 per day, more than three times that of a leisure tourist.

“In a usual year, delegates and attendees at events at ICC Sydney alone contribute almost $1 billion to the local economy. Less than 10% of the economic impact of business events is generated within the venue, the rest is shared with the local economy, including hotels, restaurants, tourism operators and transport operators.

“The economic impact of business events also reaches across regional New South Wales through the farmers, primary producers and winemakers that supply event venues and their surrounding precincts.

“Business events also foster the knowledge economy and lead to local talent and research funding opportunities for universities and research centres,” said Donaghy.

Committee for Sydney Deputy CEO, Ehssan Veiszadeh said Sydney was losing out to global competitors.
“It’s so heartening that the NSW Government is planning to reopen our economy as our vaccine numbers rise, but the business events industry must be part of that plan,” Veiszadeh said.

“Sydney risks losing investment and talent attraction opportunities without certainty from the Government that the business events industry can restart safely soon.”

Business Sydney, incoming Executive Director, Paul Nicolaou said the economic impact of business events was a major driver of the city’s economy.

“Business events not only attract the brightest minds to our city to solve the world’s challenges, they are also a key driver of the local economy.  Event attendees dine at local restaurants, stay in city hotels mid-week and visit our local tourism attractions.

“Sydney’s economy will not recover until business events return,” Nicolaou said.

Together with the Committee for Sydney and Business Sydney, the Sydney Business Events Coalition comprises Sydney based members of the key association bodies and organisations representing business events:

Ehssan Veiszadeh, Deputy CEO & Director of Strategy, Committee for Sydney
Paul Nicolaou, incoming Executive Director, Sydney Business
Geoff Donaghy, Deputy Chair, Business Events Council of Australia
Peter McDonald, CEO, Meetings and Events Association
Spiro Anemogiannis, President, Chief Executive, Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia
Karen Sainsbury, Professional Conference Organisers of Australia board member, NSW Councillor
Dean Long, CEO, Accommodation Australia
Michael Johnson, CEO, Tourism Accommodation Australia
Andrew Hiebl, CEO, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux