Today, an Amendment Bill in relation to the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme will be introduced to the House of Representatives, proposing to remove ‘event promoters’ from the scheme.
The EMDG scheme is a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters. Administered by Austrade, the scheme supports a wide range of industry sectors and products, including inbound tourism and the export of intellectual property and know-how outside Australia.
Australia’s Convention Bureaux work closely with Professional Conference Organisers (event promoters) to increase international delegate numbers attending conventions held in Australia via delegate boosting initiatives. The removal of ‘event promoters’ from this scheme will reduce the assistance and support provided to an important part of the business events sector.
In 2011/12, Australia’s leading convention bureaux won and assisted the placement of 456 international business events for Australia. These events are expected to attract 149,475 delegates for 609,385 visitor nights, with an economic benefit of $385.2 million.
Furthermore, business events:
- Deliver highest daily visitor spend
- Disperse visitors across regional Australia through satellite meetings and pre/post touring
- Fill hotel beds and airline seats during off-peak leisure times
- Bring world’s best practice to Australia
- Promote innovation through collaboration and networking face-to-face
- Deliver education and skills training
- Encourage trade in Australian products and services; and
- Lift Australia’s profile on the international scene in specific professions, trades and industries.
The AACB’s Executive Director, Andrew Hiebl added, “The proposed amendment will have significant impact resulting in fewer international delegates for Australia and therefore reduced export revenue, and a reduction in all of the indirect benefits brought to the economy by business events. At a time when current global economic conditions and a high AUD make Australia a less attractive long haul destination, now is not the time to be reducing support for delegate boosting activities.”
“In a highly competitive global industry where we are attempting to reach Tourism 2020 targets set for the business events sector in Australia, the emergence of relatively new destinations in Asia and the Middle East, with significant government bid funding cannot be overlooked. Therefore, the importance of retaining international conventions won for Australia and ensuring materialisation of their international delegates will put a greater spotlight on delegate boosting to achieve this target.”
The AACB does agree with the amendment for grants to be paid more quickly, however, recommends that this be taken further to ensure that both the grant determination for Approved Body submissions and full payment of the subsequent grant be made within the financial year following the grant year. Many EMDG applications for the grant year 2010/11 made by convention bureaux were not determined or paid until 2012/13, making it extremely difficult to plan and budget for the promotion of Australian destinations through international marketing activities.
The Federal Government has not yet responded to AACB concerns of Austrade’s changed approach to the assessment of its members’ EMDG applications, where some State’s convention bureaux are having their grant substantially reduced by the proportion of source funding that is obtained by local or state government.
AACB therefore recommends a further detailed review of the proposed 2013 EMDG amendments with business events industry consultation before passing any such Amendment Bill.