British Columbia Meetings & Events Industry Presents Safe Restart Plan
- Özgür Töre
The British Columbia Meetings & Events Industry Working Group has presented its graduated Safe Restart Plan to the provincial government to coincide with the overall reopening of British Columbia.
Separated into four stages, the plan aims to protect the health and safety of the public while allowing controlled meetings and events to take place within purpose-built venues such as hotels and convention centres—kick-starting BC’s devastated tourism sector, getting the industry back to work, nurturing the mental health and wellness of British Columbians, and fostering business growth and innovation.
The plan proposes that the industry resumes as part of a four-stage graduated process. Each stage increases the number of attendees permitted within a range, the types of meetings and events that can be held, and the activities that participants can engage in.
“This proposed plan, in combination with our BC Meetings & Events Industry Restart Guidelines, demonstrates our industry’s preparedness to get back to business safely. We are awaiting the opportunity to discuss the details of the plans with our provincial health officer to realize some momentum toward reopening,” says Joanne Burns Millar, Chair, BC Meetings & Events Industry Working Group, and CEO of Pacific Destination Services Inc.
While the meetings and events industry is composed of hotels, restaurants, convention centres and other meeting venues, the sector supports a diverse mix of businesses that include destination management companies (DMCs) professional conference organizers (PCOs), meeting and event planners, event rental companies, caterers, audio visual and lighting service providers, decorators, etc.
The Safe Restart Plan states: “Because business meetings and events are highly-planned, tightly-controlled gatherings, they should be viewed as a low-risk way to reactivate the tourism industry. These functions are professionally organized, exclusive to invitees only, require behavioural compliance, use purpose-built facilities with robust health and safety protocols in place, involve strict risk mitigation plans, and are hosted by organizations held to account by corporate governance, protocols, social responsibilities, and commitments to their communities and workforces.”
Each year, business events generate $4 billion+ within British Columbia; loss created by COVID-19 has had a significant economic impact for the province and resulted in tens of thousands of lost jobs. Approximately 80% of businesses within the sector are considered small- and medium-sized businesses that have been devastated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these businesses lost between 85% and 100% of projected annual revenues in 2020.
In the same way that schools, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores have adapted to operate safely, meetings and events have also adapted by implementing appropriate physical distancing, health and safety measures, contact tracing and enhanced crowd control protocols to successfully plan and execute events for under 50 people, as outlined in stage one of the plan.
Though now is not the time to gather, it is the hope of the BC Meetings & Events Industry Working Group that this plan be seriously considered in the reopening of British Columbia to support industry recovery and the overall well-being of British Columbians in every corner of the province.