The business events segment of the tourism industry can help grow the Australian economy with the assistance of a series of targeted public policy measures, according to the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB).
The policy proposals are contained in the 2017-18 Pre-Budget Submission of the AACB, the principal representative body for the business events industry.
“The latest industry analysis of bids by Australian cities to host international conventions, exhibitions, incentives and meetings showed convention bureaux have secured 360 international business events across the forward calendar,” said the CEO of the AACB, Andrew Hiebl.
“However, over the course of the next decade, Australia has missed out on 235 bids, with the estimated lost business of this being $805 million in direct delegate expenditure.
“Major reasons for this lost business include superior financial packages being offered by other nations and the high overall cost of hosting a business event in Australia.
“Hosting more business events helps to build a stronger, more productive and diverse economy because such events are platforms for attracting trade, foreign investment and global talent.
“International conventions also have a role to play in the nation’s renewed focus on innovation, science and jobs of the future.
“Given one in five dollars spent by international visitors in Australia is spent by an international visitor attending a business event, our sector represents a tremendous growth opportunity – for tourism and for the economy more broadly, as it transitions away from the resources boom.”
Recommendations in the AACB’s Pre-Budget Submission include:
- Invest in a national convention bid fund of up to $10 million per year, which would enable Australia to better compete with rival international destinations to win the right to host more major business events;
- Grant access to the fee-free online Electronic Travel Authority visa scheme for delegates attending major business events, which would increase Australia’s international appeal, particularly in China (in the designated Australia-China Year of Tourism, 2017); and
- More effectively promote Australia as a knowledge economy by conducting a dedicated $10 million business events marketing campaign.
“The business events industry is certain that if these policy proposals were to be adopted and implemented, there would be a high rate of return on this investment,” Mr Hiebl said.
“On an annual basis, over 37 million people attend more than 412,000 business events across Australia, generating more than $28 billion in direct expenditure and almost 180,000 jobs.
“The recent opening of the new International Convention Centre Sydney means Australia is better placed than ever before to derive greater economic benefits from business tourism by hosting more international business events.”