The G20 presidency has strengthened Australia’s international reputation as leading event destination.
Australia’s year-long G20 presidency ended on a high in Brisbane in November, with US President Barack Obama describing the Queensland capital as ‘a global city in a globalised world’. Such praise confirmed that Brisbane deserves its reputation as a city of true international standing and significance.
Australia’s G20 presidency ran from 1 December 2013 to 30 November 2014. Hosting the G20 not only gave Australia a valuable opportunity to influence the global economic agenda and strengthen engagement with the world’s major economies, but it also provided an opportunity to showcase the very best Australia has to offer to a global audience.
During the presidency, Australia lead a series of preparatory meetings and events in locations across the country, including Hobart, Uluru, Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns, culminating in the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane – the most significant meeting of world leaders Australia has ever hosted. For 12 months, Australia was a focal point for debate and discussion on issues of international economic significance, and each location took its turn on the stage to host delegates from the world’s biggest economies with the very best Australian hospitality on offer.
After being awarded the honour of hosting the Leaders’ Summit in 2009, Brisbane truly grasped the opportunity to maximise global and national interest in the event. Brisbane’s success in delivering a memorable G20 Leaders’ Summit was due in no small part to the capacity and capability of its dynamic business events industry. A series of high-profile initiatives created exceptional local experiences for visitors and delegates, and guaranteed that the G20 Leaders’ Summit leaves a valuable long-term legacy for the city as an event destination.
For Brisbane Marketing CEO John Aitken and his team, it took two solid years of meticulous planning and preparation to ensure Brisbane was ready to deliver an event of such scale and international significance.
“Hosting the G20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to promote the city globally and establish a new standard for event hospitality,” John Aitken said.
A Summit to Remember
To ensure Brisbane is remembered as the `friendly G20 host city’, more than 2,000 Brisbane tourism and hospitality workers, taxi drivers and official G20 volunteers completed Brisbane Marketing’s Brisbane Welcomes the World training program, which encouraged participants to think about what makes Brisbane special and how they could best share it with visitors to the city.
According to Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, the delivery of a safe and friendly G20 was the paramount priority for the City municipality and agencies involved.
“I am proud of how the Brisbane community worked together to make all visitors feel welcome, and I think that the Leaders’ Summit has demonstrated that we are a tolerant democracy that can host a safe, successful event of this status, and that is trouble free,” Mayor Quirk said.
Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan said: “Australia’s hosting of the G20 has been a wonderful opportunity to show the world why we are regarded as a leader in delivering business events. Brisbane has now hosted a meeting of some of the world’s most important leaders and created a total G20 city experience for all summit attendees that has simultaneously showcased the exceptional food, facilities and cultural experiences we have on offer here in Australia.”
A Meeting of Ideas
To capture the imagination of the delegates arriving and contribute substantially to the G20 narrative for a better future, Brisbane Marketing initiated The Brisbane Global Café – a first for a G20 host city. The Global Café provided a focal point for virtual discussion on key themes for the two days immediately prior to the Leaders’ Summit. During the course of the Global Café, 75 global technology pioneers, scientists, entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors and new-world thinkers talked about and exchanged ideas on the deep issues that affect society.
Capacity with Capability
With more than 4,000 delegates, including some of the world’s most recognisable VIPs and 3,000 media representatives in attendance at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, Brisbane’s events community and in particular the host venue Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) were well aware of the challenges of hosting an event of this scale.
BCEC general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, said every square inch of the centre was utilised for the G20, with the success of the event a credit to everybody involved, and particularly the centre’s hard-working team. Leading up to the G20, the BCEC team had 186 meetings with G20 delegations, and met with the G20 Taskforce, Queensland Police, and other key stakeholders. The diversity of quality function spaces in Brisbane able to cater for large groups was also on display, with a cocktail reception held at the nearby Gallery of Modern Art followed by dinner in the adjacent Queensland Art Gallery.
Australia on a Plate
Australia’s reputation for world-class food and wine is growing, and the G20 Leaders’ Summit provided the perfect opportunity to showcase the very best of Brisbane’s culinary offering. For the highly anticipated Leaders’ Lunch event, the world’s leaders dined on the very best local produce Queensland could deliver, which was all sourced specially and matched with the best Australian wines.
BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter, who prides himself on the freshness and quality of the Convention Centre’s cuisine, said the G20 was 12 months in the planning and despite the challenges from a catering perspective, with more than 100 chefs working throughout the event and serving up in excess of 100,000 meals, it was a great success.
He said the sheer volumes required needed careful management to ensure that the fresh ingredients could be sourced locally, and that they could be brought into the centre at designated times to fit with event security measures.
Brisbane’s wider hospitality community was also keen to contribute to the G20 festivities, with the city’s top restaurants participating in the Global Flavours program by creating signature menus for the month leading up to the event.
While the G20 provided wonderful opportunities for many of Australia’s cities and iconic locations to shine, the jewel in the presidency crown was the delivery of a successful Leaders’ Summit that enhanced Brisbane’s growing international reputation as a destination of choice for business and investment, major events, international education, conventions and tourism.