Barry Neame, president Professional Conference Organisers Association

Members of the Professional Conference Organisers Association of Australia (PCOA) have embraced a new Tourism Australia initiative to support the nation’s business events industry.

The initiative, the Boosting Business Events Bid Fund Program (BFP), is intended to help secure new international business events for Australia.

It will financially help Australian contenders at the critical point of the event bidding stage.

The PCO association is a member of Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) and was actively involved, on behalf of the association’s members, in the lobbying process to secure Tourism Australia’s BFP program, which will provide an investment of $12 million over the next three years.

With my experience as the treasurer of Business Events Council Australia (BECA), I know that without the combined efforts of BECA and MP Steven Ciobo, with his unwavering support to BECA during his time as Minister for Trade and Investment, securing the Bid Fund Program would not have been achievable.

Financial help from the fund could become a winning factor for those contending for international events.

Such events often are the subject of intense competition among countries and the fund will ensure that Australia does not miss out at the last hurdle because of funding issues.

The fund will, in certain cases, level the playing field.

It is important for those wanting to take advantage of the bid fund to know that applications for support are determined via a submission and assessment process relating to international business events for Australia.

For international association events and exhibitions, submissions must demonstrate that the event for which support is requested will attract a minimum 500 international visitors.

For international incentive events, submissions must show that the event will attract a minimum of 1,000 international visitors and/or bring an economic value of more than $3 million to Australia.

Submissions must be for a minimum of $100,000 (excluding GST) and need to request funds to cover actual event costs, including but not limited to accommodation, venue hire, transport and other event costs.

Applications for BFP support will only be considered when Australia is already in competition with other international destinations for an event. Applications will not be considered for initial stage bidding where Australia has not progressed to the consideration stage.

Key criteria for the awarding of funding include that an event must:

* Have the potential to increase the success rate of Australian bids for new international business events.

* Have the potential to attract large numbers of international visitors to Australia.

* Be likely to deliver significant economic value to Australia.

I hope that many professional conference organisers make the most of this bid fund and the opportunities it provides.


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