We’re all being flooded by news and communications about COVID-19. Below we summarise information about how destinations are responding, which we hope will help you in planning your own mitigation and recovery strategies.
Despite setbacks from the COVID-19 crisis, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) MICE Bureau prepares to organise a series of roadshows across Asia to promote Korea’s appeal as a corporate meetings and incentives destination as part of the country’s recovery plan.
Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB) enhanced its PLUS SEOUL programme with additional support initiatives to boost MICE recovery efforts.
- Support more MICE events;
- Increase financial support with more flexible criteria (lower min number of participants);
- Events that have not been cancelled but instead postponed to a later part of 2020 will receive additional financial aid (10%) from Seoul Metropolitan Government;
- Co-op marketing with other cities to encourage multi-destination events in Korea;
- Establishment of the Seoul MICE Support Center.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will be pushing out a HK$400 million (US$51 million) trade support plan. The money will be used to:
- Subsidise event organisers to bid for large-scale conventions and exhibitions;
- Lower the threshold for applying funding support for small & medium-sized meetings and incentives;
- Waive the participation fees for relevant promotion activities organised by the HKTB in source markets; and
- Provide subsidies for related air tickets and hotel accommodation and new initiative with the hotel sector, MeetON@HongKong, to provide groups with free meeting packages or dining packages.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is offering a number of digital initiatives for industry SMEs including:
- A month-long Spring Virtual Expo beginning 1st April 2020 to establish contact with global buyers and to capture orders during the traditional peak sourcing season;
- HKTDC will promote this Expo through its 50 offices worldwide, including assisting with buyer invitations;
- Online-to-offline (O2O) promotion packages for companies to participate in physical exhibitions and conduct promotions through HKTDC’s online platform;
- Transformation Sandbox or ‘T-box’ which is a free SME support programme providing advisory service, networking, capacity-building and practical opportunities.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
The Australian Government will inject an extra AUD $49.8 million (USD $30.7 million) into the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme in the 2019-20 financial year. This is in addition to the AUD $60 million (USD $37 million) already committed.
According to The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) a majority of their members are eligible as Approved Bodies under the scheme, as their role it is to attract international business events to Australia through marketing and bidding activities, reaching international markets and driving high yield visitation.
Expected entitlements will be paid in full. Applications lodged in the 2020-21 financial year can claim promotional expenses that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as tradeshow cancellations. These activities will be treated by Austrade as having taken place.
Eligible convention bureaux will be able to position these funds to recovery efforts.
The European Commission has founded a DKK91 million ($22 million) Danish aid scheme to compensate organisers for the damage suffered due to the cancellation of large events with more than 1000 participants in line with EU State aid.
In the coming period, the focus of THBA, among others, will be on leads generation through:
- Looking further into collaborations with the local service providers (lawyers, banks, etc.) to find more leads.
- Strengthening data research efforts in order to obtain more leads based on public sources.
South Africa Tourism Chief Conventions Bureau Officer, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo in her “Postpone, not Cancel” message emphasizes that “Africa must have its turn. With rotation, if they cancel, they will move onto the next destination. It may take 10yrs to get an opportunity to host or bid. We must assist to find a new date.”
The Rwanda Convention Bureau is working with event organizers and industry stakeholders to postpone and not cancel events. Some have already confirmed for the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Rwanda had 20 meetings scheduled in March-April 2020.
To support its campaign, the EIC is providing a letter template for industry professionals to adapt and send to representatives in their government so that the right message about how the business events industry can assist in recovery is consistently used.
TOURISM RECOVERY SPENDING
Indonesia’s minister of finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced that the government has set aside a budget of 298.5 billion rupiah (US$21.5 million) to help stabilise Indonesia’s economy and pull tourism businesses through the economic slowdown.
Kenya has set aside Sh500 million (US$ 4.7 million) to help the tourism sector recover from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Part of the funds will be used to restore destination confidence to ensure that Kenya remains a preferred travel destination globally. The rest will be used for the post-coronavirus recovery strategy in all Kenya’s key source markets.
Thailand’s Tourism Ministry will be giving financial aid to local tour businesses by returning a combined 1.4 billion baht (US$42.4 million) of registration deposits to them. The ministry’s policy stipulates that each company will receive 50-70 per cent of the deposit back to help ease the economic burden created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million (US$ 11.5 million) available to assist SMMEs (small, medium and microenterprises) with a turnover of under R2.5 million (US$ 144,214) in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.
The Singapore government will set aside SGD $90 million (USD $62.7 million) to help the tourism industry rebound strongly. This is part of the SGD $48 billion (USD $33.6 billion) Supplementary Budget to support workers and save jobs. Hotels, travel agencies, tourist attractions, cruise terminals and operators, as well as venue operators will get a total of 75% wage offset. The qualifying monthly wage ceiling will be raised to SGD $4,600 (USD $3,227), from the SGD $3,600 (USD $2510) previously announced in February.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has called on governments of all countries to take immediate action to help ensure the survival of the critical travel and tourism sector through:
- Financial help for the millions of workers in the sector.
- Extend vital, unlimited interest-free loans to global travel and tourism companies as well as the millions of small and medium sized businesses.
- Waive all government taxes, dues and financial demands on the travel sector with immediate effect at least for the next 12 months.