The half a billion-dollar a year event industry in New Zealand is hanging its hat on Thursday's Budget for urgent financial help to avoid businesses heading into their "dying moments".
That's the message Event Impressions director Jeff Alexander from Rotorua gave Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee this morning.READ MORE:
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The committee is made up of MPs and is an inquiry into the Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alexander and his wife Jacqui have built up the Rotorua-based event company over the past 18 years to be a thriving business that is involved in more than 200 annual events throughout the country. It employs five people with a team of up to 20 casual workers who do event design and styling including event decor, event flowers, event linen, event furniture and event management expertise.
He said while his businesses had shredded its costs as much as possible and was working on other ideas to "pivot" its services, the future of their businesses as well as others in the sector would depend on what was offered immediately for businesses in the Budget.
Wage subsidy increases were just part of what was needed as event businesses battled with what was likely to be weeks and months of no income.
He said unlike other businesses that could open its doors in level 2 and welcome back customers, most of their events had been cancelled in the immediate future and there was a long lead-in time before they could plan and organise more events and therefore start to get income.
Alexander asked the Government to lead the way in continuing to hold events and conferences to help boost confidence in the market.
"Lead the re-start. Keep their sponsorship, run their events and work closely with the business event industry. The Government must carry the event industry through."
Alexander stressed if the industry could get help now, it could be saved.
"We absolutely believe that business events in New Zealand will return. That's why we are here today, fighting hard to see our business and our industry be recognised and preserved for when it can all start again safely.
"New Zealanders will resume the need to learn, to celebrate, to socialise, to convene in person. We will be denied this future for the sake of six months if we cannot secure assistance."
What Jeff Alexander has asked the Government for:
* Scalable financial assistance
* Extension of the wage subsidy
* Assurance of the circumstances of when gathering or capacity numbers could change
* Confidence in the industry by both central and government booking events
* Consultation from Ministry of Health with the business events sector