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HBAA warns Treasury funding may not save some event businesses

The Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) has warned that despite the chancellor’s announcement of further grants and discretionary funding, 5 January, many events businesses face permanent closure.

“This latest lockdown, combined with the prospect of no live events or meetings until later this year, threatens to close the doors of many venues and agencies for good,” said Juliet Price, the trade association’s consultant executive director.

Read: Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirms further support

Price added that despite the Bounceback loans and furlough extension, many venues and agencies cannot survive without any income for what will have been a year since events stopped.

“It is now essential that the Government immediately provides the industry with comprehensive and consistent financial support, accessible to the full range of affected businesses, which HBAA and other industry associations have campaigned for throughout the pandemic,” she added. “The Treasury’s announcement today that it is making money available to the hospitality sector as one-off grants, with more money for local authorities to cover other businesses, is welcome and we hope that most events organisations and all those in the supply chain will be eligible.

“The widespread roll-out of vaccinations has given us a glimmer of hope. But for many businesses it will be too late.”

Price added that additional funding should be made to facilitate training event personnel in online events. She said: “We need a Re-skill and Re-equip fund to help train staff to run hybrid and virtual events and buy the equipment required. And we need support to train more Mental Health First Aiders who will be lifesavers as the level of impact and despair reaches its peak.”