The Exhibition and Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) will step up its lobbying of the Victorian Government after it failed to provide funding for the expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in the State Budget handed down last week.
Event organisers and suppliers had hoped Victoria would follow the lead of NSW where $1 billion was last month committed to the redevelopment of Darling Harbour, including 40,000 sqm of exhibition space.
EEAA General Manager Joyce DiMascio said the peak body would continue to make representations to the Victorian Government to support an industry that is a multi-million dollar generator of employment and business.
“The industry has been advocating support for this vital piece of infrastructure but the tight budget has favoured other urban and regional initiatives,” said Ms DiMascio. “We will continue our dialogue with the Victorian Government, looking for a commitment to fund the expansion of the MCEC.“
The Exhibition Centre extension will increase business tourism by a further $150 million.
“We understand that the Government does support the expansion of exhibition facilities but due to pressure to fund other programs, it would appear we must still continue to build the case for investing in this crucial piece of events infrastructure,” said Ms DiMascio.
The MCEC plays a vital role supporting business events and tourism in Victoria and without additional exhibition space the government’s own business growth strategies will be constrained.
“Our recently completed EEAA Market Monitor identified the size of this growing sector. In the last six months of 2011 Victoria hosted 17 per cent of the 361 exhibitions held across the country, whereas NSW accounted for 36 per cent. There were 11,000 exhibitors who participated in these shows, which indicates just how important they are as a forum for businesses to sell products and services.”
A Circulations Audit Board report for the 2011 financial year showed 26 per cent of visitors to exhibitions held at the MCEC were from overseas or interstate.
Ms DiMascio said the next 12 months presented an opportunity for the EEAA to build a stronger voice for the exhibition industry in Victoria working with its members to ensure the long awaited expansion of exhibition facilities is funded.