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If things don't change much, the impact on the events industry April onward is expected to be in the realm of Rs 20,000...

After AROI, the experiential industry writes to the government seeking support due to Coronavirus impact

If things don't change much, the impact on the events industry April onward is expected to be in the realm of Rs 20,000...
  • With a complete lockdown of the country and postponement and cancellation of all major events, close to 10 million people from the events industry are expected to be impacted.
  • While the industry is expected to see a loss of about Rs 3,000-5,000 crore for February and March, the impact April onward is expected to be in the realm of Rs 20,000 crore.
  • Sanjoy Roy, President, EEMA tells us why it has asked the government to intervene and what are the industry body’s recommendations.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the experiential industry has been hit hard. With the cancellation and indefinite postponement of all major events, and with almost the whole of the country under a lockdown now, nobody knows when things will get back to normal.

Considering the heat it is already feeling, the Event & Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) has written to the government with a set of recommendations, to help it out in wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The industry currently directly employs close to 10 million people and indirectly, through sectors like food & beverage, hospitality, tourism, advertising and marketing employs another 50 million people. And all these people are expected to bear the brunt.

To understand the conversation EEMA is having with the government, and the recommendations it has sent to the government, we recently caught up with Sanjoy Roy, President, EEMA, who gave us a sense of the impending impact and their asks and expectations from the government.

Edited excerpts:

Q) Considering the kind of impact the pandemic is having on the events industry, what is the conversation you are having with them? What are your asks and expectations from the government?

We are requesting for assistance from the government through various SOS measures including delay of tax pay-outs, moratoriums on loans and urgent pay-outs, tax reductions and collateral-free loans. While the industry is hopeful of the government considering some of these measures, the industry is conscious that the government is dealing with multiple emergencies at the same time while facing the pandemic. EEMA and some of the leaders of the industry would conduct online and offline education and mentoring programs so that those employees currently working for their companies and the professionals registered with EEMA could both avail of the program and benefit from the learning and get themselves ready for the oncoming economic revival.

SOS Response Requested

  • Release with immediate effect all Tax refunds that are due including income tax and TDS
  • To cover the cost of salaries/daily wages etc. for those infected by COVID 19 and unable to return to work.
  • Collateral free line of credit to be used for employees’ salaries and statutory dues.
  • Moratorium of payback on loans, interest for a period of 9-12 months.
Industry Reconstruction Measures

  • Pay all dues to companies who have executed work orders in this segment for the Government of India, the public sector and State Governments.
  • Zero or minimal-interest loans to be made available by the department of MSME for the financial year 2020.
  • Government-initiated projects should replace the need of Bank guarantees with corporate guarantees.
  • Loans to be provided for loss-making companies against future contractual work.
  • Instruct insurance companies to insure future events and activities against Covid 19 or similar medical/biological disasters in addition to existing natural disasters.
  • To cover the cost of salaries/daily wages of employees laid off for a period of 90 days at least.
  • Reduction of GST on entertainment and cultural events to 12% and the arts & entertainment segment may be covered.
We have had a series of meetings, both in the state and on a national level and we hope that the government is able to help out the industry. We feel confident that they will make a fair decision.

Q) With so many events being cancelled, what kind of financial impact do you predict for the industry in the next few months? Who are the ones who are the most impacted in the industry?

I think the industry is already seeing a financial slowdown that seems like it will grow quite exponentially in the months to come. The first two months will see a loss of about Rs 3,000-5,000 crore for February and March as projected by a survey of 200 MSMEs. With a young workforce, mostly those between the ages of 25-40, the impact will be felt severely by the 10 million people employed directly and indirectly. The impact April onwards will be in the realm of Rs 20,000 crore.

Q) As an industry, experiential will see a complete lockdown. Will the use of digital see an unprecedented growth now, pushing agencies that weren't considering digital adapt to the changing times?

We’ve already taken to digital with the live online concert organized on March 22 that saw artists across the country perform live to encourage people to adhere to the Janata curfew. But as of now, it’s a sense of the unknown and we have to make the best of these circumstances and ensure the best and safest way forward.

Q) Do you anticipate this pandemic will lead to an eventual overhaul of how the experiential industry works?

Change is constant and I think this will definitely push brands and marketers alike to reassess their approach to consumer engagement. While our industry relies a lot on the physical presence of people together, in such a situation we have to think of new ways to work around the obstacles placed in front of us and if we come out the other side with newer and more exciting ways to function, it will benefit us all. But without a major stimulus this segment along with the creative industries will be hard hit and it will be near impossible to start again. This will be the biggest tragedy as we are large employers within the unorganized sector.

Q) Recently EEMA organized a live online concert, before the Janata Curfew. If things don’t change much, do you plan to come up with more such online concerts?

Yes, depending on how the situation progresses, we feel that these kind of events have the power to bring people together and inspire support for those that are battling on the frontlines against this pandemic. We plan to organize the next one this week to encourage social distancing and help keep spirits up in these difficult times.

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