Event organisers call for €17m rescue package in the budget

Companies in the sector say Covid crisis has decimated their businesses

Attendees at the International Human Microbiome Conference at the INEC, Killarney. File photograph: John Austin

Attendees at the International Human Microbiome Conference at the INEC, Killarney. File photograph: John Austin

 

Event organisers are calling for a €17 million rescue package as many expect they won’t trade in the near term and say that it may be 2022 before they generate income again.

In a pre-budget submission, the Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers, which represents 10 leading event companies, says member companies have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Restrictions on people gathering due to coronavirus mean they are effectively unable to trade, with no recovery expected for another 12-18 months. The long lead nature of the sector means that business opportunities running up to 2025 and beyond are now slipping away.

The organisation is calling for financial support to help bolster the sector, as well as asking for the Covid wage-subsidy scheme to be extended for the industry until next May.

The industry group also wants to see the establishment of a “resilience and hardship grants scheme”, and a general reduction in the hospitality VAT.

Members collectively organise an average of 96 conferences a year which are attended by more than 32,000 delegates.

‘Decades of experience’

The organisation called for the speeding up of Government Covid guidance specific to conference and event centres, saying the 100-person restriction on indoor gatherings is making events non-viable.

“We have decades of experience bringing people together in a controlled and safe environment. Our members and their teams are more than ready, willing and able to impose any controls necessary to keep people safe at these events which are vital to the business tourism industry and to the knowledge economy,” said chairman Ronan Flood.

Research commissioned by Fáilte Ireland last year shows the events sector supported 20,000 Irish jobs and provided €160 million in additional returns to the exchequer.