Victorian operators take impacts of fourth Covid lockdown on the chin

Melbourne's iconic Federation Square quiet and empty during lockdown

Victoria is in the midst of its fourth Covid lockdown, putting the brakes on the momentum that was seeing healthy bookings return for corporate events in the state.

The state government announced a strict seven-day circuit breaker that started at midnight last Thursday in response to a growing number of Covid cases. Rules reintroduced include a five-kilometre limit for essential goods shopping and exercise, no public gatherings, closure of hotels and restaurants restricted to takeaway services.

Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square quiet and empty during lockdown

It’s expected that A$1 billion (US$772,790) in economic activity will be lost over this period. But convention bureau manager at Business Events Geelong, Mark Day, believes industry operators will take the difficult development in their stride.

“Lockdowns are hard on the meetings and events industry but our operators are now experts at mitigating these issues having dealt with this four times already,” Day, who is also chair of Business Events Victoria, told TTGmice.

“Understandably, business events enquiries have slowed in the last 24 hours due to uncertainty surrounding the latest lockdowns. With tour operators, restaurants and venues now facing yet another setback, it is more important than ever that we band together as an industry and support these local businesses, many of which are family-owned and operated,” he continued.

Prior to the latest lockdown, venues in regional Victoria were seeing bookings return in healthy numbers, although group sizes were smaller and had much shorter lead times of two to three weeks rather than months. But that’s not all that has changed.

“What we’re seeing is that although traditionally, most of our operators have been really good at working together, the pandemic has resulted in a lot more camaraderie between them. They’re working with us really closely to sell or pitch the destination, and packaging their offerings (together). Those wins are also being counted as wins to the region,” Day observed.

Day also said that while the latest lockdowns are difficult, they are important for Victorians to do “hard and fast”, to stop any further spread of Covid in the state.

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