Government Must Listen To Conference Sector in New Covid Help Plan

Leading Event Organisers group says appeals are falling on deaf ears

AIPCO says the voice of the conference industry needs to be heard in the upcoming review of sectors needing assistance to cope with the impact of COVID-19. Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced last week that the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure will be drawing up the plans in the coming weeks.

Despite a number of appeals in recent months, AIPCO says the voice of its members has fallen on deaf ears at government level to date. Considering the impact of the pause in Ireland’s reopening plan, the companies which make up AIPCO are extremely concerned that their future and the livelihoods of hundreds of employees may be forgotten about.

Chairman of AIPCO, Ronan Flood said: “We’ve worked for many years with Ministers, TDs and Senators who know the value of conference events when it comes to sharing ideas and getting messages across. Now we need them to listen to us about the value to the Irish economy, Ireland’s international standing and most of all to our members and their workforce, of a supported industry. We need to be at the table when it comes to discussing the right way to help people make it through the uncertain future of the final months of 2020 and beyond”.

Every conference and event being organised by AIPCO members this year has been cancelled, with an increasing number of 2021 events now in doubt. The international conference sector has a pipeline of events planned, which are estimated to be worth €1.2 billion euro to the Irish economy. AIPCO and the events they manage, employ and support the jobs of hundreds of people, but there are fears that many companies in the sector may not survive the current crisis. This would put future business and tourism events, which are also vital educational platforms, at risk.

“International organisers are selecting locations for their conferences and events now, up to five years ahead of the staging date”, Ronan explained, “and if we can’t rely on support to get through the last part of 2020, we can’t be confident of being ready to kickstart our businesses in 2021”.

Ronan Flood said he and his AIPCO colleagues would welcome the opportunity of engaging with government to help inform them as to how this valuable sector of tourism can be supported. AIPCO has previously proposed a preferential VAT regime for Professional Conference Organisers, as one way to alleviate the pressure on the sector. Such systems are already in places like Spain and Portugal. This initiative would allow destination Ireland compete effectively against competitor destinations.

Support is urgently needed for this sector of tourism.

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