Guidelines – NSW State Significant Event Fund

7 November 2021

Introduction and strategic alignment

The NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 outlines a bold vision for NSW to be the premier visitor economy of the Asia-Pacific by 2030.

The Visitor Economy Strategy, prepared by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, through extensive stakeholder consultation with industry and government stakeholders, sets a target of $65 billion in total visitor expenditure to the State’s economy by 2030.

Investing in a world-class events calendar to maximise the economic, strategic and social benefits to NSW is a key strategic pillar of the Visitor Economy Strategy 2030.

The NSW Major Events Strategy 2030 supports and aligns with the Visitor Economy Strategy’s priorities, providing a blueprint to position Sydney and NSW as the events capital of the Asia-Pacific.

The State Significant Event Fund provides a mechanism for acquiring, investing, developing and leveraging major events in line with these strategies.

Funding Overview

Major events generate significant economic and social benefits for NSW. They are critical to the growth of the visitor economy and achieving the Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 targets.

The NSW Government has committed AUD$200 million in funding over four consecutive years (set out in the 2021/22 budget) for a State Significant Fund (SSEF).

The SSEF is a contestable fund that is designed to enable accelerated investment to secure, acquire and develop signature sporting and cultural events of national and international significance. These events may also require whole-of-government support.

The introduction of the SSEF reinforces the NSW Government’s commitment to building and growing the State’s diverse events calendar, ensuring NSW remains competitive and continues to attract high calibre event content.

Funding Objectives

The objectives of the SSEF are to:

  • Drive significant economic and social benefits to the State through direct event visitation, visitor spend and jobs creation
  • Generate significant media, brand and profiling opportunities with NSW’s key domestic and international markets
  • Provide a world-class, distinctive and compelling event calendar that enhances and reinforces the Sydney/NSW brand and profiles Sydney and NSW as the events capital of the Asia-Pacific
  • Deliver a balanced annual events calendar, considerate of off-peak events and visitation seasonality
  • Deliver events exclusive to Sydney and regional NSW
  • Promote and stimulate the 24-hour economy
  • Contribute positively to the cultural and social fabric of Sydney and regional NSW.

Definition of a State Significant Event

A State Significant Event is one that is or has the potential to be nationally and/or internationally significant, delivering substantial ex-region visitation, return on government investment, media and destination profiling opportunities, jobs creation, and economic and social benefits to NSW.

A State Significant Event can be a recurring annual event or a one-off feature event.

State Significant Event Funding

Applications can be submitted year-round and should ideally have a lead time of six months or longer to allow sufficient time for assessment of the proposal and to maximise opportunities.

Road to Recovery FY2021/22 and 2022/23

Major events will play a key role in the recovery of the NSW economy from the impacts of the global pandemic.

In FY2021/22, to support the recovery phase and with a focus on economic stimulus, no minimum amount of funding per event/application will be applied to events being held in FY2021/22.

In FY2022/23, the minimum amount of funding per application that may be applied for is AUD$2 million (ex GST) per annum/per event. The total NSW Government contribution from all sources must be no more than 75% of the total cash expense budget and the minimum funding requirements of $2 million (ex GST) from the SSEF must still be met.

From FY2023/24 and FY2024/25, the minimum amount of funding per application that may be applied for is AUD$5 million (ex GST) per annum/per event. The total NSW Government contribution from all sources must be no more than 50% of the total cash expense budget and the minimum funding requirements of $5 million (ex GST) from the SSEF must still be met.

There are no caps on the funding available for each proposal. The SSEF is funded to a total of AUD$200 million in funding, over four consecutive years (FY2021/22 – FY2024/25).

There is a maximum two-year limit on event commencement, i.e. approved in Year 1 and funded in Year 3 (max) with a recognised, pre-approved accrual for the two forward years.

To support Road to Recovery initiatives, the two-year limit on event commencement will not apply to events funded in FY2021/22 with no minimum funding amount. These events should be delivered in the year of approval to support visitor economy and events sector recovery and to deliver broader economic benefits across NSW.

The SSEF will be administered by Destination NSW, an agency within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Destination NSW will appoint a dedicated account manager to each event approved to receive funding following the evaluation process.

The level of any funding offered is discretionary and determined on a case-by-case basis. Destination NSW will refer events recommended for funding for approval by the Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, and/or relevant Minister.


All professional event industry stakeholders who hold and arrange events can apply. To be eligible to apply for support from the SSEF, the event must be:

  1. A new, one-off event, exclusive to NSW (in Australia and New Zealand); or
  2. A new, recurring annual event exclusive to NSW (in Australia and New Zealand). Funding received through the SSEF will be capped at three years investment; or
  3. An event that has not been held in NSW in the past 10 years.

The event must also be:

  1. Financially sustainable and not rely solely on NSW Government funding for event viability.

The applicant must:

  • Demonstrate capacity and capability in delivering major events including past experience
  • Have a current Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Hold Public Liability Insurance (PLI) with a reputable insurer for the sum of no less than AUD$20 million per incident and present a current certificate of currency with the application
  • Be financially solvent
  • Events must have relevant approvals or certification from key stakeholders, such as national or international sporting federations
  • The event/s must be held prior to 30 June 2025.

Note: Applicants are encouraged to discuss their event with agencies such as venues, government departments and sporting associations. Where possible, applicants should demonstrate the support of stakeholders in their applications.

Activities that are ineligible

State Significant Event Funding is provided solely for the event and for no other activity. Funding is not provided to underwrite events and the following activities:

  • Business events, conferences, industry and trade events
  • Events that are proposed to be staged outside of NSW
  • Charity or fundraising activities
  • Event, sporting or cultural infrastructure projects
  • Retrospective activity
  • Special event celebrations such as Christmas, Australia Day or New Year’s Eve celebrations
  • Events by political parties
  • Recurrent operating costs, for example rent and utility costs
  • Taking out, securing or repaying any loans or other financial accommodation including bank overdraft financial accommodation
  • Routine or ongoing maintenance activities
  • Events that do not have relevant approvals, rights, sanctions or certification from key stakeholders such as national or international sporting federations
  • Events that commence less than six months after the application is received. N.B. This requirement will be waived for events being held in FY2021/22 and FY2022/23.

Assessment Criteria

i. Economic impact

  • Capacity of the event to drive new expenditure to the State including rural and regional NSW, as a direct result of the event being held in NSW, delivering significant economic contributions to the visitor economy, with consideration to the following: anticipated number of visitors, participants, spectators and other attendees who will travel from intrastate or overseas specifically to attend the event
  • average visitor length of stay (visitor nights)
  • estimated daily visitor expenditure
  • ability to substantiate visitation and economic impact claims.

If the event is a new event, Destination NSW assessments will be made through comparison of other events of a similar nature.

ii. Marketing, media value, and brand enhancement

The ability of the event to align with NSW’s brand positioning and values, generate global media coverage and drive marketing outcomes for Sydney and NSW in key domestic and international markets.

Consideration will be given to:

  • how the event will profile Sydney and regional NSW, generate awareness and provide positive media impact
  • sponsorship opportunities
  • media, PR and broadcast value
  • alignment with Destination NSW’s brand proposition, enhances brand perception and drives marketing objectives
  • how the event showcases and enhances Sydney and regional NSW’s credentials as a global events destination.

iii. Strategic value

The event aligns and supports the NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 and NSW Major Events Strategy 2030 targets and goals, in addition to one or more of the following strategic priorities:

  • exclusivity to NSW and uniqueness of the event
  • the event’s appeal to attract high-value travellers
  • utilisation of government-invested infrastructure, where relevant and appropriate
  • event timing addresses any seasonal priorities and drives visitation in traditional off-peak periods
  • capacity to deliver a financially sustainable event and generate financial support beyond State Government funding
  • opportunities for business and industry to leverage the event.

iv. Social and cultural benefits

The event’s capacity to create positive engagement, driving positive social and cultural benefits to the host destination including:

  • opportunities for local community and business engagement and participation including volunteer programs
  • enhancement of city vibrancy and activation, civic pride and social cohesion, the relevance and timeliness of the proposed activity
  • demonstrated support from local or regional council and community to host the event
  • leaves a legacy which enhances social, cultural or environmental benefits
  • measures applied to ensure the proposed activity is accessible
  • adherence to relevant cultural protocols
  • evidence of appropriate consultation with participants, audiences or communities
  • the role of partners or collaborators, including confirmation of involvement
  • the diversity and scale of income and co-funding, including earned income, grants, sponsorship and in-kind contributions.

N.B. In considering the eligibility criteria and assessment, Destination NSW may also consider other factors, such as the level of funding provided for the event from other NSW Government entities and/or programs and, the strategic importance of events to regional NSW.

Application requirements

A full business case must be submitted to Destination NSW addressing the following:

  • Details of the applicant, including evidence of previous experience in event delivery
  • Overview of the industry in which the event takes place, including membership, fan base, media, profile of the industry or event
  • Description of the event, including:
    • proposed date
    • location
    • format
    • core activities
    • ancillary events
    • broadcast and media exposure
    • key stakeholder support
    • event delivery/ management structure
  • Target market and estimate of attendees, including breakdown of participants, staff, and or spectators by location (intrastate, interstate, or international)
  • Marketing and promotional plans, a marketing plan must be included in the proposal
  • Event viability and financial details including the model for the event and other funding sought to support the event. The event budget must be included as part of the proposal
  • Financial request and any other assistance sought or obtained from NSW Government, including other funding support, value in kind, permits, approvals, venues, etc.
  • Event management details including obligations managed by the event and obligations for Destination NSW
  • Benefits and leveraging opportunities for Sydney and NSW.

Each applicant warrants that all information provided in relation to its application is true and correct in all material particulars, at all times, and is not misleading whether by omission or otherwise.

Application and assessment

Destination NSW will evaluate applications on their merit against the assessment criteria. Successful applicants will be notified by Destination NSW, followed by the issue of a contractual agreement that will outline the benefits, deliverables, milestones, KPIs and payment schedule associated with the allocation of investment. The process is outlined below:

  1. Submission
    1. Applications submitted to Destination NSW and assigned to an account manager.
  2. Assessment
    1. Event assessment and due diligence undertaken by Destination NSW. The extent to which the event meets the eligibility criteria and delivers on strategic outcomes is determined.
    2. Ministerial recommendation prepared on final proposal and investment.
    3. Approval brief prepared for Minister’s formal decision.
    4. Successful applicants notified in writing, followed by the issue of a Strategic Investment Agreement.
  1. Contracting & Post-Event Reporting
    1. Destination NSW Strategic Investment Agreement executed.
    2. Communications plan developed to include all announcements.
    3. Post-event report and data provided to Destination NSW, sixty days post-event.


  1. If the event has not been held previously, applicants are required to use evidence-based data from reliable sources to qualify the figures used to determine attendances and economic impact.
  2. If the event has been held previously in other territories, provide previous event outcomes including economic and social impacts for the host city.

Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by Destination NSW in writing and will be provided with the opportunity to request a formal debrief on their application.

Investment agreement

Successful applicants will be required to enter into a Strategic Investment Agreement with Destination NSW.  The Strategic Investment Agreement will include, but not be limited to, the following terms:

  1. The rights and obligations, conditions and warranties of the NSW Government and the applicant
  2. The benefits, deliverables and KPIs to be met by event partners
  3. The marketing activities that the successful applicant and Destination NSW agree on relating to all media and creative approval
  4. The payment schedule that will be made following the successful completion of agreed milestones and achievement of prescribed KPIs
  5. Reporting and accountability obligations including an event evaluation template which will capture data including attendance, length of stay and visitor spend.

Destination NSW may offer in-kind support in areas of marketing and public relations which will also be detailed in the agreement.

Bids for major event content

The SSEF enables Destination NSW to also proactively acquire and/or bid for major national/international events where exclusive to NSW.


Eligible applications will be assessed using the information provided as well as any supporting documentation. Applications that do not adequately address the assessment criteria will not be considered. Destination NSW reserves the right to not assess applications that do not provide all requested information, or do not otherwise comply with the requirements of the SSEF.

The SSEF will be a highly contested and competitive fund therefore applicants must not assume funding will be granted. Applicants are encouraged to consider contingencies and other funding sources should the application be unsuccessful.

No funding decision is binding on Destination NSW until a formal Strategic Investment Agreement is executed by Destination NSW and the funding recipient. The Strategic Investment Agreement will set out a number of contractual obligations and measurable objectives. As standard, a final payment of a minimum of 15% is withheld and only payable if Key Performance Indicators/targets are satisfactorily met.

Applicants must not assume they will be successful or enter into commitments based on that assumption before receiving formal notification of the outcome of their application.

Previous awarding of funding from Destination NSW does not assume the event will be funded in the future.  Applicants acknowledge that failure to declare funding contributions from other NSW Government sources will deem them ineligible under the program.