A move to a more restricted Level 2 for regions outside of Auckland will make additional support crucial for the business events industry, says Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA).
Under Level 2 from Wednesday 8 September, gatherings outside of Auckland will need to be under 50 persons in a defined space, down from 100 in previous Level 2 guidelines, mask wearing will be mandatory and all attendees will need to scan in for contact tracing.
BEIA Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins says while acknowledging the Government’s actions are prudent, to get the whole country to Level 1 more quickly, the industry is distressed with these changes, especially for the South Island where there is no sign of the Delta variant.
“While Auckland is in Alert Level 4 or at Level 3, operating a business event on any scale is significantly more challenging for all regions,” she says.
“It is now time for the Government to look at business events specifically, and not just as a sector that may receive benefit from other support programmes put in place for regional tourism organisations, major events or tourism.
“Our ask is that the Government continues with the Resurgence Subsidy Programme, not as a one-off, but as on-going support.
“This period, prior to Christmas, is considered to be our busiest time of the year. The worst possible scenario is that the sector and the vast number of businesses who support it are unable to generate any income until February 2022 at the earliest,” Hopkins says.
“These are businesses who have not only shown remarkable resilience, but also sustainable business practices to overcome the Covid rollercoaster. They should be celebrated and supported for how they have sustained New Zealand and other sectors during this time.”
“As the safest and most controlled form of gathering, the business events industry is not only a significant economic contributor to New Zealand, it also employs thousands of people and makes important but often unrecognised community contributions. Business events are a key driver within the local economy, using local restaurants, staying in city hotels mid-week and visiting local tourism attractions.
“In May this year, BEIA collaborated with the Events and Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ) to develop the Level 2 Framework, to address this very issue of operating larger numbers under Level 2 safely, to ensure we could continue to operate at sustainable levels. It included scanning as key to ensuring the health and safety of participants and the community. We believe we have been ahead of the pack, even ahead of Government, on this.”
“Right now, the sector is busy rebooking, replanning and redoing a momentous amount of work. They are not receiving any income for this. Confidence feeds this sector and right now, while there is loyalty, confidence is low with customers. Staff also need assurance. Everyone is looking for guidance and transparency.
“We need clarity on the future intent. We are looking for measures and other key indicators so that we can understand when we may be able to get back to Alert Level 1. Given the industry’s contribution to hospitality and tourism, it is imperative for these sectors to also have insight into how this sector will be able to provide support in the future.
“We are not asking for business advice and implementation support – these businesses have already proved to be sustainable and viable. They just need to keep the lights on and staff employed so they can play their vital role in New Zealand’s recovery and reconnection with the world,” Hopkins says.