The Federal Government will cover up to half of the costs for Australian businesses involved in conferences and events as part of a $50 million grant program intended to help restart the sector.
Under the Business Events Exhibitor Grants program, Australian businesses exhibiting at an approved business meeting, convention, conference or incentives event in 2021 will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs.
The grants on offer will range from $10,000 to $250,000 per business.
The scheme is aimed at encouraging businesses to attend events, trade shows and conferences, with the government covering the costs associated with exhibiting such as exhibition space hire, the manufacture of displays, travel and accommodation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the funding will support the business events industry that was heavily hit by COVID-19 restrictions, with around 95 per cent of business events for 2020 either cancelled or postponed.
"Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry, but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy," said Prime Minister Morrison.
"This is not only about supporting events companies and venues, but will also be a shot in the arm for a broad range of businesses and the people they employ - whether it's accommodation providers, those who build exhibitions, caterers, cleaners or those offering audio-visual services."
The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the announcement, hoping the targeted support will drive confidence and create momentum for the sector.
"Australia's business events industry wholehearted welcomes the Federal Government's support through this grants program. Australia's business events industry has left devastated by the COVID-10 pandemic, at a cost to our economy of $35.7 billion, and counting," says chair of the Business Events Council of Australia Dr Vanessa Findlay.
"Today announcement is an important step towards recovery. We can now look to rebuilding business confidence and kick-starting momentum across the entire business events supply chain for meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions.
"BECA's goal is to both support the business events industry and maximise the contribution that this makes to the recovery of our wider economy. This support package will be pivotal to that."
BECA notes that last year over 480,000 business events were held in Australia and over 43 million people attended a business event in the form of a meeting, convention, exhibition or incentive event.
In a recent survey conducted by BECA, 67 per cent of businesses said they don't have any business events confirmed for 2020 and 48 per cent of businesses said they don't have any business events confirmed for 2021 either.
More information about the Business Events Exhibitor Grants program can be found here.
Updated at 10.59am AEST on 11 September 2020.