BECA view

MATT Hingerty, Chairman Business Events Council of Australia

2019 is another important year for the business events sector and for the country.

With a Federal election scheduled for May, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), has stepped up its campaigning in Canberra for more investment in the business events sector.

At election time, every industry jockeys for the attention of political parties — some are well organised other less so.

I am very proud of the work BECA and its Member Associations have done to build a professional campaign to validate further support for business events.

In December, business events leaders met with 12 key MPs and their advisors, from all sides of politics, with a united message about the need for a strong policy for business events and additional funding through Tourism Australia.

BECA members who attended the government meetings included: Joyce DiMascio, CEO of Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA); Robyn Johnson, CEO, Meetings & Events Australia (MEA); Barry Neame for Professional Conference Organisers of Australia (PCOA); Andrew Hiebl, CEO, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB); and Karen Bolinger, President, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB).

We called for a clear national policy for business events to be launched ahead of the May Federal election covering six key areas. These are:

  • Extension of the successful Bid Fund Program (BFP), and partnership programs managed by Business Events Australia. BECA calls for increased BEA funding of $10m or $40m within four years.
  • Funding for research; managed by the business events community and Tourism Research Australia in order to benchmark the industry, and quantify the sector’s size, impact and worth.
  • A national infrastructure mapping study to identify the gaps and priorities for business events infrastructure in metro and regional areas.
  • Support to work more closely with VET and higher education sector (namely TAFE) to design courses that match the industry’s needs now, and in the future.
  • Temporary skilled labour visa reform to enable the industry to more easily respond to fluctuating demands with a more flexible temporary visa system.
  • Growth Industries Business Events Team to link our outcomes with those associated with the Industry Growth Centre Initiatives.

We all know that business events stimulate the visitor economy but the message we have to also communicate more strongly is that their impact is more far-reaching than tourism.

We received a positive reception from all sides of politics — we presented a clear policy framework and the research to support our business case.

A positive reception doesn’t always result in policy and funding support. So we have more work to do to get cut-through with six pillar policy “ask”. I urge the industry to take every opportunity to support BECA by communicating these messages to your local Members of Parliament.