STA, 1 December 2021 - The Slovenian conventions and events industry has urged the government to provide emergency aid to the tune of EUR 50 million. Half the companies in the business are at risk of collapse next year, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said.
Large segments of the industry have been shut down for more than a year. "We did a bit of work in the summer, but then we were shut down again by decree on 5 November," said Dejan Žura of DB Team, a company specialising in light and sound production.
Concerts and other events without seating are currently banned, whereas strict restrictions are in place for events that may still be organised. "The situation is only getting worse," he said.
The sector recorded a 61% decline in revenue in 2021 compared to the year before, and similar results are expected this year. "We urgently need aid. If the government does not heed our calls, at least half of our companies will fold next year," he said.
Events organisers have high fixed costs. They are also grappling with the departure of staff with specialised know-how. Žura projects the total headcount in the industry will have dropped by 30% this year compared to pre-coronavirus levels.
There were three major fairs this year - the trade fair in Celje, agricultural fair in Gornja Radgona and the Nature-Health fair in Ljubljana - but exhibitor and visitor numbers were lower by roughly 60% and 40%, respectively, said Robert Otorepec, the director of Celje Trade Fair organiser Celjski Sejem.
Concert organisers estimate over 1,250 music events were cancelled last year, making for a revenue shortfall of around EUR 110 million. The situation will be even worse this year, according to concert organiser Mitja Prezelj.
The sector estimates they need EUR 50 million in aid in the form of subsidised furlough and short-time work, a universal basic income for the self-employed, and a provision valid through May next year under which they would get 100% compensation for events that are cancelled.
GZS director Aleš Cantarutti expects the government to "give it a serious thought" and amend the latest anti-corona stimulus bill, which is already in parliamentary procedure, with these measures. "I understand that funds are limited... But something must happen."