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Call for extension of wage subsidy scheme into 2021 as conference sector 'on verge of collapse'

Event organisers have said they face the prospect of no income for 18 months.

Image: Shutterstock

CONFERENCE ORGANISERS HAVE called for supports to be put in place for their sector, including grants and an extension of the wage subsidy scheme until March next year.

The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO) today warned that the sector “is on the verge of collapse” following the cancellation of almost every international conference in Ireland between now and next summer.

AIPCO said its members organise an average of 96 conferences every year which are attended by over 32,000 delegates from across the world. The association said theses conferences generate €75 million a year for the Irish economy and support thousands of jobs in the tourism sector as well as the 230 direct jobs in the sector.

Chairman of AIPCO, Ronan Flood said representatives want to meet with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin to “discuss the real threat to the sector”.

“An event we hosted on-line last week laid bare the challenges facing the MICE [meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions] sector. Event organisers face the real prospect of no income for 18 months,” he said.

The association has put forward a plan to support the sector, including funding for Fáilte Ireland, an extension of the wage subsidy scheme until March 2021 and a resilience and hardship grant to help companies to trade through the crisis.

“When the pandemic does eventually end, we need these companies to hit the ground running to bring international conferences back to Ireland” Flood said.

“The industry needs to be supported now to ensure Ireland can maintain its position as a leading showcase destination for these important events, and support as many jobs as possible in the interim.”

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