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ORGANISERS of half of the events cancelled in the Wimmera and southern Mallee due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions plan to reschedule their event for later this year. 

A Wimmera Development Association survey of 40 events cancelled between mid-March and May 31 also shows that more than 40 per cent of organisers have cancelled their 2020 offering altogether and will turn their attention to 2021. 

Some event managers expressed concern that their events may not re-commence at all following the effects of the pandemic including potential loss of volunteers, momentum or sponsors.

The survey, conducted in April, forecasts that event cancellations cost the region more than $23 million in economic contribution during the March to May period alone. 

This affected almost 60,000 participants with almost 30,000 day trips and more than 35,000 overnight visitors staying in the region about 75,000 nights forfeited. 

More than 1000 people were involved in organising the events with 96 per cent of them volunteers, providing about 16,000 hours of labour, project management and administrative support. 

The survey did not include the impacts of postponed seasons for sporting clubs and leagues and business-related events.

Wimmera Development Association project manager Vernetta Taylor said many event organisers also shared their concerns for the community’s mental health and wellbeing stemming from the cancellation of events. 

“It was important to reach out to event organisers to get an understanding of the impact that cancelled events, due to COVID-19, has had on our communities – financially and socially,” she said. 

“Our local events are a part of what makes our region a great place to live.  The economic fallout is obviously very significant however the social costs are also substantial.

“It is important that event organising bodies are supported, so that our many events can return to ensure a vibrant community, that attracts visitors from near and far.” 

Wimmera Development Association will present findings to survey participants and other interested parties via video conferencing on Thursday, July 2; the forum opens at 12.15pm for a 12.30pm start.  People can register here