18 Jun 2020 | 10.40 am
Conference Organisers Fear Sector Wipeout
AIPCO seven-point plan to save the sector
18 Jun 2020 | 10.40 am
Ten companies that organise international conferences in Ireland have warned that they face wipeout due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers AIPCO says its members organise an average of 96 conferences each year, attended by c.32,000 delegates from abroad. 90% of international conferences between now and summer 2021 have already been cancelled.
The ten member companies face substantial financial challenges or company closures, says AIPCO, due to no revenue being delivered into their business for a 12 month period. “They also have to address huge expenditure in terms of resources and deposit payments for future conferences,” it adds.
Chair Ronan Flood (pictured) said: “International conferences deliver business tourism worth €74m to the Irish economy every year, and the benefit of that spend is enjoyed far beyond the immediate conference venue.
“We believe the value of the industry supports 20,000 jobs, not to mention the direct jobs created by our members. With little or no conferences between now and next summer, we are concerned that our industry could collapse, and there will be no infrastructure left to enable these events for at least the next three years.
“We are appealing to the government to listen to our concerns, and consider our seven point plan to save this vital sector.”
AIPCO’s ‘survival’ plan calls for:
- Significantly increased resources for Fáilte Ireland to secure the immediate future of the business tourism sector and to secure new leads for 2021 and beyond.
- Due to long lead times in the business, extension of the wage subsidy scheme until 31 March 2021.
- A resilience and hardship grant scheme to ensure the sector can deliver future business.
- Financial support to International Association clients to enhance our competitive position in Europe
- Implementation of a zero VAT rate for business tourism when a local professional conference organiser is used, as with other countries offering this incentive.
- The development of clear guidelines on how conferences will take place safely. A priority is the reduction of social distancing from two metres to one metre to ensure financial viability for conferences.
- A dedicated task force for the sector, to contribute to the work of the Tourism Recovery Task Force.
Flood added: “We are not alone in facing significant challenges, but failure to address our concerns will result in lost revenue and lost jobs. We appeal to the tourism minister to hear our concerns.”