Response to the Government’s Plan to Contain COVID-19: Sunday, 15 March 2020
We are an industry that connects people. Their health and safety are our top priority.
Having said this, we will always treat the health and safety of business event delegates as our number one priority and will follow official health and travel advice and the advice of governmental bodies.
In terms of the statement by the President of South Africa in which several restrictions have been announced, SAACI, as representative association for the business events industry, acknowledges the plan that has been unveiled. We will work with government departments and agencies to ensure that the economic and human resource impact on our industry is managed and fully understood.
We will keep members informed and updated on the work the association is undertaking as we work through this crisis and on how we will respond, in particular requesting members to participate in our snap survey on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.
On Friday, 13 March 2020 SAACI requested the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to convene an industry meeting to discuss and respond to the impact that COVID-19 is having on our industry and consider the following:
- A rescues package for affected business.
- A recovery plan post COVID-19 and
- The impact on domestic travel.
We await feedback from the TBCSA on a date for the proposed meeting.
In doing the above, we want to highlight the systemic importance of our marketplace and meeting places around the Southern Africa and the world. Once the current outbreak is over, they will be the drivers of economic recovery.
It is important that we participate in the public and political debate. We are closely monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with our partners around the world.
It is vital that we show, wherever in the world, that we are ready to open and to hold meetings in accordance with local health regulations, supporting industries and economies.
It matters a great deal that we discuss how to get them going again, when health authorities give the “all clear”. To keep events closed right now is keeping people safe from a health threat today. To get events going again is keeping people safe mid-to-long term by stabilising and supporting trade and economies.
And, together, we can do just that.
From the SAACI Team
Dear SAACI Member
Every day we learn more about COVID-19. There are knowns and there are unknowns, which at times make one very uncomfortable, to say the least.
We are all trying to navigate this uncertain time in which we find ourselves.
We do not yet know with any degree of certainty what the total impact will be on our industry or the global economy. That uncertainty is difficult and uncomfortable, and it is playing a large role in influencing decisions that have an impact on all of us – personally and professionally.
As the voice of the South African meetings industry, SAACI has been relaying member and industry concerns to government.
The key areas we shared with government:
- We emphasised our industry commitment to public safety.
- The challenges that the business events industry faces when reassuring clients that events are still happening and are safe to attend (according to the current advice from the Health Ministry and other authorities).
- The need for responsible communication from government and key industry bodies on what measures are put in place for public health at venues.
- Not be alarmist in how we respond in our communication and making sure that all statements are fact based.
- How the industry deals responsibly with,
- Cancellations that are happening daily, and the economic and human resource impact this is having in an already tough economy, and
- Postponements – hosting the event/conference later in this calendar year where possible.
We are confident that government is handling the situation, as well as communication around it, in a responsible and non-alarmist manner. The Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, continues to give regular updates about developments around coronavirus cases in South Africa.
We are aware that, regrettably, some meetings and events in South Africa have been cancelled. We urge you to make fully informed decisions – to also contact us to discuss your options.
SAACI is in regular contact with the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) about the matter, and through our affiliation with other professional bodies, both locally and internationally, we have access to accurate information and advice.
When considering your options, it is important to check your contracts, your cancellation insurance policies and to review your communications to meeting attendees, exhibitors, vendors and other stakeholders. See this informative article on the issue: https://www.pcma.org/covid19-coronavirus-is-your-business-event-covered/
Furthermore, the Events Industry Council, of which SAACI is a member, provides a full resource of information about COVID-19 itself as well as its relevance to and effects on the business events industry. Visit https://www.eventscouncil.org/Industry-Insights/About-coronavirus for more information.
To assist with a way forward:
- SAACI will continue to update members with key resource portals that will assist in making informed decisions.
- SA Tourism has rescheduled a webinar to discuss COVID-19 via the Tourism Update website – registration is on-line.
- The Western Cape JAMMS team is also planning a webinar to discuss COVID-19 – the link will be shared once it is ready.
- SAACI and the SANCB are in daily contact to ensure messaging is aligned and that we share resources with the industry.
Let us also keep each other abreast of what we are experiencing in our specific regions. Sharing knowledge and information in real-time, sharing concerns and potential solutions, as well as accessing the most current and authoritative information from numerous official bodies and agencies will aid us in helping each other and the industry as a whole.
Together we will manage our way through this crisis.
Glenton de Kock