VisitScotland has released the findings of an industry survey that asked event suppliers for an honest account of the impact that COVID-19 has had on their business.

The survey, which generated more than 300 responses, found:

  • 57 per cent of respondents are 100 per cent reliant on the events sector for their business turnover, a further 26 per cent are 61-99 per cent  reliant​
  • ​27 per cent have lost more than £250,000 in revenue to date, with 11 per cent of those losing more than £1 million.  Average revenue loss is almost £650,000.​
  • ​43 per cent of respondents have stated that they can remain trading between one and six months, and 25 per cent  are unsure of how long they can remain in business. Four per cent have already ceased trading​.
  • ​21 per cent have not been eligible or have been unable to access any support funding​
  • ​55 per cent of respondents have staff furloughed – 93 per cent of those that have accessed the furlough scheme indicate that extending it beyond October would have a helpful/essential impact on their ability to operate​
  • ​69 per cent of respondents are self-employed, either as a sole trader or via a Ltd Company
  • There is a significant reliance on freelance staff, particularly amongst small and micro businesses (the majority of respondents)​
  • ​The vast majority (96 per cent) of respondents are from micro or small sized businesses
  • ​9 per cent have already made or foresee making redundancies with 16 per cent of respondents expecting to making redundancies before Oct – 26 per cent expect to make more redundancies post Oct if furlough is not extended​
  • ​44 per cent of respondents state that their income will not exceed expenditure until physical distancing restrictions are lifted​
  • ​34 per cent have been able to diversify their product or client base, into areas including digital events and COVID-19 protection measures.

In addition, verbatim feedback also emphasised a range of over-arching challenges including concerns around the loss of skilled workforce and how this would impact on the future of the sector; mass gathering and physical distancing bringing financial challenges; seasonality and the dependency for many businesses on summer and outdoor event seasons and the need for a clearly defined restart plan for the events sector.

Paul Bush, director of events at VisitScotland, said: “From staging to security, marketing to marquees, and event organisers to venues – it was crucial that we gathered intelligence from businesses who are part of the events and festivals sector supply chain in order to help inform recovery plans.

“The findings underline that the events supply chain is made up of a vast range of businesses which do no not operate in isolation – there are many interdependencies across the sector all relying on a supply of goods, services and specialist skills provided by the wider economy. It also emphasises the critical support required by all aspects of the supply chain but in particular freelancers, the self-employed and small businesses, in order to remain trading in the future. “Many of those that supply the events sector provide specialist skills that, once lost, are not easy to replace.”

Image: This is Edinburgh (edinburgh.org)