Events industry calls for conferences to be exempt from gathering restrictions

Events industry calls for conferences to be exempt from gathering restrictions

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has called upon Federal and state governments to exempt business conferences and events from mass gathering restrictions.

The industry body has also asked for clarification on an anticipated restart date for domestic events in the Australian market to get things back on schedule.

The EEAA says business conferences and events can operate under a controlled set of 'bio-safe' principles and therefore should not be subject to the same restrictions as other mass gatherings and large scale public events like professional sporting events and music festivals.

"The business events industry run highly organised events where we can trace every one of our visitors, delegates, speakers and exhibitors as well as monitor, track and put in place a range of measures that can ensure these events comply with Government measures on hygiene and physical distancing," says EEAA chief executive Claudia Sagripanti.

"The business events industry, which includes exhibitions, conferences and business meetings contributes $35 billion to the national economy, with another $17.2 billion in value add and employs over 229,000 people across a range of sectors and trades.

"The re-opening of this important sector will support the Government's objective to implement work safe guidelines to get Australian's back to work. It is of vital importance to ensure that Governments understand the role business events plays in restarting the economy."

The EEAA, in collaboration with the Business Events Council of Australia and the Venue Management Association is developing safety and hygiene principles for the business events community.

To get events and conferences back up and running the EEAA has requested governments provide a clear timetable on when business events can restart as considerable lead-time is required to plan and implement events of scale.

"The sector needs support now with a clear timetable on when we can run events August/September and the last quarter of 2020 is vital to recovery, but the industry needs a confirmed date to commence planning," Sagripanti said.

"An August restart allows government and the health authorities further time to ensure the state's COVID numbers continue to decrease and stabilise and to enable an agreed Bio-Safe environment for our controlled and organised events where the business community comes to do business."

The EEAA's plea to state and federal governments comes as the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) today announced it would be cancelling the 2020 Queensland Tourism Awards for the first time in the event's history.

"Like so many other aspects of our industry, 'normal' no longer applies this year and the awards program was not viable under the current circumstances," says QTIC chief executive Daniel Gschwind.

"This is a huge disappointment to us and to many operators, but the reality is that the industry has an overwhelming challenge on their hands to get through this crisis.  It is the sole focus for everyone. We will be back with the program next year, bigger and better and remain fully committed to supporting excellence in business."

Updated at 11:46am AEST on 8 May 2020.

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