Friday, September 07, 2007

Equine Flu effects on the Event Industry

From Greg Coffey
Events Coordinator, Sydney International Equestrian Centre

As someone who is involved in the equine industry (venue related) how has the Equine Influenza outbreak affected you? We have virtually shut down. All events for September & October have been postponed - that alone is in the vicinity of $100k.

Of course the govt is missing out on taxes from TAB etc but another thing to consider is that all those "recreational" horse owners and those in equine competition, "performance" horses, are suddenly grounded. Now take into account that all these horse folk own 4WD's, 6 cylinders, V8's, F250's or trucks to move their horses around the state or country. Now that they are at a standstill that means they are not buying fuel for their vehicles - no taxes on fuel for the govt. It is the tip of the iceberg as far as impact is concerned.

I heard from a contractor yesterday who told me he had been contacted by a plant nursery and was asked if he wanted to buy a semi trailer load of annuals - these flowers had been purpose grown for Randwick Racecourse for the Spring Carnival. They no longer require them. The local nursery is hardly a $1m business - that will hit this guy really hard.

What about the hire car and taxi industry... you get my drift here. So over to you - how has the outbreak affected you?

1 comment:

ASE editor said...

Update from Greg Coffey at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.

We are within 6 km of the quarantine station at Eastern Creek so we are in a "restricted zone".

We are currently in full lock down mode. We had a competition on the weekend of the ban (Aug 25th) but we are incredibly lucky that we had only 13 horses on site. While there were a lot of competitors it was only minimal horses due to the fact it was the State Champs for Riding for the Disabled so the horses are specially trained and owned by schools. A week either side and we could have had over 200 horses on site.

We are currently disinfecting all vehicles that come on or off site. Spraying wheels, under wheel hubs and under cars and insisting on people washing footwear on entry & departure. At this point there is no evidence of EI on site and we are desperate to keep it that way. We have had 8 of the 13 horses granted special permits to leave site so we are now down to 5 horses - 3 of which have also now been granted permits and will leave in the next day or 2. The rule is that Dept of Primary Industries are allowing them to leave but only if their final destination is in a restricted zone. They don't want the risk of moving a horse from a restricted zone (us) to a clean zone where the infection could spread. The incubation period for EI is about 5 days - so their fear is a horse could be showing no signs here then when is moved to a clean zone the virus could surface 5 days later and that zone then becomes restricted.

The impact on us so far has been huge - we have already lost in excess of $150k in event revenue - then we have the issue of rescheduling all the postponed events into an already jam packed calendar from virtually Dec on into 08. We were scheduled to hold 3 Olympic qualifying events between Aug & Dec so the rescheduling of these events now becomes a priority and they must be held, naturally, before Beijing (well Hong Kong for the equestrian events) before Aug 08.

Some regional shows have already been cancelled and in some cases the regional show has gone ahead but without any horse events. You may be aware that the Melbourne Show made that decision - I am not 100% sure what Adelaide decided on. As for Sydney Royal - well who knows...will people want to bring their horses in to NSW? Will the all clear be given by March 08? Will the Royal just not have any horse events? Will they only allow NSW horses to compete? My gut feeling is that the ban will not be lifted prior to Dec. The sad part about the virus is the pain the horse goes through - a horrid rasping cough, then there is the muscle tone the horse looses while it has the virus and then the time it takes to then get a performance horse back in to peak shape again. That conditioning adds around 4 - 6 weeks of work AFTER the virus is cleared - it is all about time.

Just to give you an idea of how much of an impact this has across so many areas/industries apart from the obvious TAB, farriers, vets, horse dentists etc etc. We had a call last week from a nursery - they wanted to know if we would be interested in buying some annuals from them as they had an entire semi trailer load grown ready for Randwick to plant for the Spring Carnival - the AJC cancelled the order.....the local nursery isn't exactly a $1m company so to have made the investment they have for no return it really is hurting the little guy as well as the big end of town.