New fund provides lifeline for major events in NSW as Queensland lifts international border restrictions

Australia’s New South Wales government has announced an Events Saver Fund for NSW Major Events. The new AUD$43m fund will cover major events and exhibitions over a 12-month period up to 31 December 2022 that are “cancelled or significantly disrupted” by Covid-19 public health orders. It is designed to enable event planners to make informed decisions around the support available as well as confidence to plan for events over the coming year. Only one claim can be made per eligible event according to the guidelines.

The financial support provided by Event Saver is intended to “contribute towards eligible unrecoverable costs incurred by organisers of affected events; it is not intended to compensate event organisers for loss of revenue or loss of profit,” the guidelines state.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said the funding was a critical lifeline for major event organisers who have had to cancel, postpone or vary their events, providing them the financial security and certainty to plan and deliver their future events in NSW.

“Major events are a key economic driver that create thousands of jobs across the state. The Event Saver Fund will ensure that organisers aren’t left high and dry as we work through this latest phase of the pandemic and sends a strong signal that the government is here to support business,” Perrottet said.

State treasurer Matt Kean said the funding was recognition of the important impact major events have on driving tourism as well as on the broader NSW economy. “The  announcement of an Event Saver Fund for major events has come just in time for organisers impacted by recent restrictions due to the current Omicron wave in NSW,” said Australian Festivals Association MD Julia Robinson.

“It will go a long way to providing improved confidence for major festivals and events scheduled for 2022 and help relieve the financial burdens associated with cancellations.”

Nicole Walker, president of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australia (EEAA) welcomed the launch of the new fund. "To launch the programme with such detail is also warmly received and enables our members to make informed decisions around the support available as well as confidence to plan for exhibitions and events over the next 12 months. 

"We appreciate the opportunity for the lines of communication to remain open with the NSW government for future support and for conversations with the industry to better understand the importance of Business Events, irrespective of size, and how exhibitions play a major role in the state economy."

Business travel industry representatives in the Australian state of Queensland, meanwhile, have welcomed the government in Brisbane’s announcement that quarantine for fully vaccinated international travellers will be lifted from 1am on 22 January, paving the way for business travel to take off once again to and from the Sunshine State.

Statistics from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows that in 2019-20, Queensland exported more than AUD$90bn worth of goods and services, while importing just over $6bn.

Flight Centre Corporate managing director Australia James Kavanagh welcomed the government’s announcement and said pre-and post-arrival testing for business travellers was a real pain point for people wanting to trade and work in the Sunshine State and that the new lifting of restrictions would provide real confidence in the corporate world.

“We’ve long championed vaccinations as the pathway to freedom and, with all testing requirements now abolished, Queensland is very much open for business to the rest of the globe; it’s a significant day for the business travel world,” Kavanagh said.

“Australia has been a world-leader when it comes to vaccination rates, and you only have to look at the number of enquiries we’ve received, and the number of searches carried out through both FCM and Corporate Traveller to know the pent-up demand to travel for business is very much there.

“There’s no doubt that travel is different to how it used to be – but different doesn’t have to be a negative thing at all, as we now have the highest ever levels of hygiene and the ability for airlines to be more flexible, ideal for a business travellers that may have last minute changes to their itinerary.”

Kavanagh admitted there could be some bumps in the road as the corporate world adjusted to a ‘new normal’, “but what we do know is businesses big and small need to travel to survive and thrive”.

“We applaud the lifting of testing requirements for both domestic and international arrivals into the Sunshine State and we are hopeful there will be no need for a return to such restrictions as we once again open the world for those who want to see,” he added.