Events companies are exploring innovative ways to trade in a “very bleak landscape” as restrictions continue to negatively affect this sector – which is a key driver of economic growth.
“We are calling on government to collaborate with the events industry to make events solutions workable on a much larger scale,” said Chairperson of the SA Events Council, Ellen Oosthuizen.
She said the events sector supply chain (people, businesses, organisations and associations) was a major contributor to the local economy through business meetings, conferences, confexes, trade shows, exhibitions and events. “The massive economic disruption resulting from the loss or postponement of these events has set our industry back by decades,” Oosthuizen commented.
She added that events were recognised as an integral part of business facilitation for a number of key industries, including the agricultural and manufacturing sectors through professional events like Electra Mining and Grain SA’s annual NAMPO Harvest Day.
“The tourism and hospitality industries are fuelled by the likes of Meetings Africa and the Tourism Indaba, as well as a wide range of sports events. Yet our current capacity restrictions and the stigma of events as ‘dangerous gatherings’ have removed the event platforms that effectively connect buyers and suppliers to generate business. The effect on our business partners and clients has been to dramatically slow their ability to revive the economy,” added Oosthuizen.
She highlighted some of the lost revenue opportunities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- In March and April, in the Western Cape alone, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival traditionally contributes around R700m (€39.7m) to the economy through tourism and hospitality sector spend, while creating some 2 000 temporary jobs for locals.
- Likewise, in the sporting world, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Absa Cape Epic and The Two Oceans Marathon boost the economy to the tune of more than R1.5bn (€852mn) per annum.
“Professional events are recognised as essential to economic recovery and business growth across a wide spectrum of industries, yet we are restricted to an unsustainable capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. So how do we continue to assist our clients and contribute to the country’s recovery?”
Noting that the events industry’s reputation for resilience, forward-planning and innovation was well-earned, Oosthuizen said, building on the success of the Event Reopening Guidelines the industry put in place in 2020 to mitigate risk, Recharge 2020 in December proved that events could reopen safely using the latest developments in rapid COVID-19 testing.
“Secure Health Passport Europe mobile technology and antigen testing, combined with the rigorous event safety protocols already in play, ensure that the event space is a safer environment than our supermarkets, malls or parks,” she said.
“Just imagine the consumer confidence generated by attending an event, knowing that everyone around you has tested negative for COVID-19. Ironically, organised events might, in fact, become the safe space in which to unlock the route to market and resume business.”