Event company

Events company SA Govt ‘decimated’ as customers snub Australia

The head of the state government’s event management company said its outlook was ‘gloomier than at any time since the initial outbreak of COVID-19’ with overseas customers turning their backs on the Australia due to the slow rollout of vaccination and continued “drastic” restrictions.

In a report to Prime Minister Steven Marshall and tabled in Parliament yesterday, the chairman of the state government-owned Adelaide Venue Management Corporation wrote that his organization had been ‘devastatingly affected’ by the restrictions in courses in Australia that had already been waived in other countries with higher rates. vaccination rate.

Bill Spurr said the company, which operates the entertainment center, convention center and Coopers Stadium, suffered an 82.5% reduction in pre-COVID event revenue in the past fiscal year, while revenues from professional sporting events and the local market decreased by 52.4%.

“Our core business of live entertainment and contemporary business events has been decimated by restrictions on mass gatherings and international and interstate travel,” the president wrote.

“The current situation at AVM (Adelaide Venue Management) is more serious than at any time since the initial outbreak of COVID-19.”

Spurr wrote that the company entered April and May with “renewed confidence” boosted by “healthy levels” of booking inquiries from domestic and local customers.

Australia is at a disadvantage for the first time since the start of the pandemic

But he wrote that “all positivity and momentum was…quickly eroded” after the highly transmissible delta strain arrived in the eastern states in June, as well as the seven-day lockdown in July in South Australia. .

“Prior to the Delta Strain, AVM had considerable success convincing customers to postpone events rather than cancel outright,” Spurr wrote.

“However, as we move into 2021-22, we have seen that customers are now much more inclined to cancel, as many are increasingly disillusioned and uncertain about when they will be able to plan their events with more certainty. .”

Spurr went on to say that Australia’s low vaccination rates meant its “favorable competitive positioning” as an event destination had been “turned upside down”.

“Until recent months, we were viewed favorably by potential event organizers as a safe and desirable event destination,” he wrote.

“However, vaccination rates in many OECD countries have since reached much higher levels than here in Australia, which has led many of these countries to open their borders to international visitors and to organize events in pre-COVID capabilities, without major restrictions.

“As these countries emerge from lockdown, Australia is imposing tougher restrictions on its site operators and people than at any time before.

“Event organizers are now showing a strong preference for destinations with high vaccination rates as opposed to destinations with low infection rates.

“As a result, Australia is at a competitive disadvantage for the first time since the pandemic began.”

The AVM paid a $1.6 million dividend to the state government last year, though Spurr noted “almost impossible business terms.”

AVM sees limited opportunities for tangible recovery until vaccine program has been successfully rolled out in Australia

The company would have entered this exercise in a “sound financial position”, but Spurr warned that “the potential impacts of the pandemic threaten to linger longer than perhaps many of us originally anticipated”.

“Assuming no other unforeseen circumstances or ongoing pandemic-related complications arise, we anticipate it will be a few years before our business returns to pre-COVID levels of revenue and profitability,” he said. -he writes.

“AVM sees limited opportunities for tangible recovery until the vaccination program has been successfully rolled out in Australia and international travel returns to near pre-COVID levels.

“Once this position is achieved, the Adelaide Entertainment Center is expected to recover relatively quickly, while the Adelaide Convention Center will experience a more gradual recovery due to longer booking times for conventions and exhibitions.”

A state government spokesman said InDaily that South Australia “has led the nation” in protecting local jobs and keeping people safe, but “there is no doubt that the global pandemic has been tough on many sectors”.

“That’s why the Liberal Marshall Government’s number one goal is to ensure that South Australia emerges safely from the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can open up our economy, create even more jobs and have as normal a Christmas as possible,” they said.

“Vaccination is our way out of the pandemic and the best thing anyone who has not yet received a dose can do right now is to roll up their sleeve as soon as possible.”

It comes after InDaily in August reported that AVM chief executive Anthony Kirchner had sent back-to-back emails to all staff urging employees to get vaccinated to ensure the company could “deliver to its full potential.”

At the time, Kirchner wrote that in the context of “winning new business”, it was becoming “increasingly evident that sites are going to have to demonstrate that their staff are fully vaccinated against COVID in the not too distant future.”

He also in November criticized SA Health’s COVID management plan for the Adelaide entertainment hub, describing it as “unsustainable” and “unworkable”.

Around 850 casual workers were let go by AVM in March last year at the start of the pandemic because the company was not eligible to receive JobKeeper payments.

In its annual report, Spurr wrote that the casual staff “had to do it particularly hard, unfairly”.

“Yet the overwhelming majority have stuck with us and are equally determined to see the AVM recover from the pandemic,” he wrote.

“The council is beholden to the loyalty granted – they are a special group of people.”

Spurr also noted the Marshall government’s campaign promise to build a new $662 million arena on the riverbank, which would be operated by AVM, describing it as “significantly important to AVM’s business and, far more importantly again, for the long-term economic future of South Australia”.

Local news matters

Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it, and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.

Donate today

Powered by
Press Patron