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Events industry must be allowed to resume operations, BAEP says


Events industry must be allowed to resume operations, BAEP says
Event professionals are hopeful that a level of urgency will be placed on updating the existing COVID-19 protocols and allow businesses in the events sector to resume commercial activity - GP

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Event professionals in Barbados said they looked forward to the clarity of the timeline and mechanisms required to allow for the events and entertainment sector to be able to resume business.

This followed the announcement from Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday about the creation of “safe zones” in the island to mitigate against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Barbados Association of Event Professionals (BAEP) said it was cautiously encouraged by the government of Barbados’ strategy in developing the roadmap with the aim to resume living the “new normal”, that is, with COVID-19.

“While we are in support of the government’s position of not implementing mandatory vaccines, we are mindful that there is a shift in global standards for mass gatherings and events that require a combination of testing and vaccination,” the BAEP stated in a news release.

“Therefore, the event sector in Barbados will also be required to comply with this benchmark to be viable.”

The news release added: “As a collective, our focus is to have all categories of event organisers allowed to be able to provide their services and create engaging experiences, while incorporating risk management protocols.

“There are several examples of best practices, which can be applied to the Barbados context, and the BAEP is in the process of preparing a ‘Safe Return’ proposal for the event sector, which will be circulated on completion.”

The BAEP said the events industry must be allowed to resume operations, to provide stimulation of the local economy, and to bolster the complementary sectors, such as retail and entertainment, which rely heavily on the staging of events locally.

“The BAEP wants to make a clear distinction that while we are often clustered with the entertainment sector, the event industry has a significantly broader scope as a complementary sector, managing and contracting entertainers and stimulating tourism, as well as cultural and other entrepreneurial activity,” the news release stated.

“Our constituents span a myriad of segments, including weddings and social event organisers; meeting planners and corporate event planners; festival and public event promoters; educators and technical event suppliers.”

The news release said: “Due to the current protocols, many wedding and corporate event planners have witnessed potential clients shifting their business to other countries.

“Within the technical and event support services sector, retrenchments are estimated at approximately 70 per cent of operational and administrative staff. This is further compounded by the loss of seasonal and part-time work programmes.”

The BAEP said over the last 19 months, several well-established event and technical support companies have closed their doors permanently or pivoted away from the industry substantially.

“Once our country returns to providing medium and large-scale cultural experiences, in its bid to replenish critical foreign exchange levels, we are concerned about the depletion of technical skill sets and capacities, which have been integrated within the Barbados brand as a first-class festival and event destination,” the organisation said in the news release.

“Our industry competes as a chosen destination with the world, but since with no clear framework or timeline for event operations within a COVID-19 environment, these scales have been tipped severely.

It is from this perspective we look forward to our inclusion in the discussion and crafting of the protocols that will govern the events sector going forward.”

The BAEP said that operators in the events industry in Barbados were not able to survive any further inactivity.

“We are, therefore, hopeful that a level of urgency (will) be placed on updating the existing protocols to provide a level playing field for business owners across sectors, allowing businesses in the events sector the opportunity to resume commercial activity,” the news release stated.