Counting the cost of lost events

Article image - Counting the cost of lost events The exhibition by Geelong-born artist RONE, was rescheduled due to nation wide gallery closures.

Figures presented to the City of Greater Geelong, Victoria, last month highlighted the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region’s events sector.

The City’s Major Events Committee annual report showed that seven sponsored events were able to go ahead last financial year, generating an estimated $9.2 million in economic activity.

This represented a strong return on Council’s sponsorship investment despite the challenges associated with the pandemic.

Events attracted around 70,000 participants and spectators, with 54 percent of those coming from outside the Greater Geelong region.

However, the report also indicated that 13 planned events were forced to be cancelled or postponed.

It estimated that the nine cancelled events resulted in the loss of around $40 million in economic benefit for the region.

The report listed four events as ‘postponed’, although the Australian International Airshow – worth $28.9 million to the local economy the last time it was staged – has since been cancelled.

As a comparison, during 2018-19 – the last full financial year not impacted by COVID-19 – Geelong Major Events sponsored events injected $99.3 million into the local economy.

Mayor Stephanie Asher said the report provided a stark reminder of the pandemic’s impact.

“Major events are vitally important to local businesses and they also bring our community together – so we feel their cancellation from both a financial and social perspective.

“The events that were able to go ahead have still proven
to be a significant driver of visitation and economic activity to Greater Geelong, providing excellent value for Council’s investment. The RONE exhibition was especially successful.

“Hopefully we are not too far away from our vaccination levels reaching a point where major events can be planned and staged with more certainty.”

Councillor Ron Nelson, said, “In an extremely uncertain landscape, we have continued to work hard to attract events to Greater Geelong and to assist organisers to stage their events wherever possible.

“We are focused on delivering an exciting calendar in 2022, in the hope and expectation that we will have a more stable environment to
host major events.”