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New Zealand Events Association highlights dramatic deterioration of the sector

New Zealand Events Association highlights dramatic deterioration of the sector
April 7, 2020

The latest survey carried out by the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA), an independent body representing the events industry, indicates that as a consequence of COVID-19, the future of the NZ events industry is in question with $100 million COVID-related losses already sustained and with further losses projected.

The NZEA survey shows that more than 5,000 events have been cancelled to date. A further 3,393 events are postponed indefinitely with another potential 5,000 to follow in the next six months.

The numbers will only worsen if the lockdown period extends further than the four weeks initially announced. While the Government’s financial support is a start, the majority of respondents say that it is not enough to save the industry. With business events alone contributing around NZ$0.5 billion per annum to the country’s economy, many in the industry wonder what it will take for the Government to recognise the industry’s plight.

Event organisers, suppliers, venues and artists in New Zealand are among those struggling to survive with the global Coronavirus pandemic causing a 100% loss in activities and revenue, even before the country’s alert level 4 lockdown came into effect.  

As a result, some have laid off staff, filed bankruptcy or are considering exiting the events industry altogether due to its uncertain future.

NZEA General Manager Segolene de Fontenay has advised that in addition to an extension of the 12-week wage subsidy scheme, the sector is seeking immediate financial assistance with overheads costs, rent freezes on commercial properties and tax relief.

De Fontenay stresses “we have grave concerns that, without this, many event-related businesses will disappear over the coming weeks and months. It will jeopardise the significant contribution the events industry can make to the post-COVID recovery of New Zealand’s domestic, and when global conditions allow, international tourism sector, the event’s host regions and the country’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing.”  

New Zealand National Fieldays Society Chief Executive, Peter Nation is quick to concur noting “as soon as mass gatherings over 500 people were prohibited, Mystery Creek Events Centre, which held 114 events last year, went to zero income and we were faced with postponing the iconic and world famous Fieldays® event for the first time in 51 years.”

Fieldays held annually in June, consistently contributes more than $500million in sales revenue for NZ firms and generates more than 2000 jobs each year. An economic impact assessment by the University of Waikato calculated that the 2019 event added $247million in GDP to the economy.

Nation continues “Fieldays is about as representative of the events eco-system as you can get, it takes nearly every available marquee in New Zealand across its 1,500+ exhibitors, which are supported by event designers, AV suppliers, lighting and power companies – the list is exhaustive, same as many other events – none of which can be held in the future without those within the broader events ecosystem surviving.”

Confidence is another key obstacle to the sector’s recovery. Many events require months of lead time to attract sponsors and exhibitors, promotion and ticket sales. With no certainty around when events can be re-booked and how public gatherings will be treated by the Government, sponsors are likely to be cautious with their investments. Consumers too will need to overcome their own financial hardships as well as health concerns around attending large public gatherings again.

De Fontenay highlights that “with every part of the events sector hurting financially for nearly two months already and facing the reality of no projected revenue for the foreseeable future, we fear it is not a case of simply re-booting when we’re given the green light.

“We need both short and medium-term targeted Government support for these operators urgently, or we simply might not have these essential events that inject millions into the economy and other industries post COVID-19.”

Image: Mystery Creek Events Centre courtesy of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

 

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