As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Irish SMEs, the events industry has warned that only a fifth of the companies that make up the sector can only stay in business for up to three months if the current social distancing restrictions remain in place.
Event Industry Ireland (EII), a new organisation established to represent and protect the interests of businesses in the Irish events industry following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland, says that the events industry employs 35,000 people and generates over €3.5bn for the economy annually. EII also says that 97% of event companies have experienced a significant drop in revenue since the outbreak of Covid-19.
To help mitigate the current challenges facing the events sector, EII is calling on the government to support the industry as its roadmap to reopening society and business in Ireland unfolds over the coming weeks.
According to the EII research, over a quarter (27%) of events companies believe it will take up to 18 months to return to pre-COVID-19 business. It also notes that only 3 in 10 (30%) of event businesses can work remotely and over half (57%) have had to temporarily lay off staff, with a further 8% having no choice but to let staff go permanently.
As the Summer time is a busy period for many event organisers, the EII notes that this Summer will be a complete washout . Over half of the firms polled have observed at least a 90% decline in revenue and a third (36%) of those have confirmed a 100% loss of revenue since March.
As businesses across Ireland begin to reopen in line with government guidelines, the events industry faces a long road ahead to resume their operations and overall, an uncertainty as to whether the sector will ever return to pre-Covid-19 levels. Almost a half (44%) have reported that 80% of their annual revenue stream have already cancelled their business for 2020 and only a fifth (19%) of that business has been rescheduled to 2021.
With social distancing guidelines remaining as they currently stand, over a quarter (27%) say they can only run less than 10% of their business while guidelines are in place. Over a third believe they could only ensure social distancing at indoor events of less than 100 people and 29% could manage social distancing at outdoor events for 300 to 1,000 people. Only 4% believe they could ensure Government guidelines are followed for events of 5,000 attendees and above demonstrating an unlikely return of large concerts, sport events and festivals for some time if restrictions are to continue.
EII is asking the Government for urgent support to help the sector survive the immediate challenges it’s facing and enable businesses across the country to get back to work as soon as possible – specific requests include the recognition of the events industry and the monetary and employment value to the Irish economy and the fact that as an Industry it will be the last to recover.
It is also seeking support from Government to install effective instant testing at entry point for festivals, events, concerts, sporting events, to allow them to take place while waiting for a proven vaccine to be discovered. In addition, it wants the Government to help it address insurance issues related to the running of events as well as financial assistance to protect the 35,000 event personnel employed in this industry. The financial support should include the extension of the wage subsidy scheme for businesses in the events industry, reduced VAT rate for event businesses and the introduction of tax incentives for events or stimulus packages for corporate businesses to kick start events within and coming into Ireland. It is also calling on the Government to provide funding to companies in the industry that are in financial difficulty.
According to Ronan Traynor, founding committee member of Event Industry Ireland and Managing Director of Verve: “The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown what was a thriving sector in Ireland’s future into doubt, with many businesses now struggling with revenue and their cash flow unlikely to return to normal levels for some time. Culture, the arts, and festivals are integral to the Irish public and we call on the Government to support the industry to ensure its survival throughout these very challenging times.”
Traynor added:“As an industry, events companies will be one of the last to recover from the effects of the pandemic. Event Industry Ireland represents businesses which operate across conferences, music events, trade shows, sporting, cultural events and festivals which are of huge importance to the economy. We are concerned for the future of our trade and welcome support to ensure the sector can get back to work as soon as possible.”