The pre-feasibility study recently released by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) identifies Sydney’s largest business events venue, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour, as the best location for an expanded conference and exhibition centre – a key priority for the NSW Government if Sydney is to maintain its position as the events capital of Australia and enjoy the highly lucrative benefits that business events bring to the local economy.
However, the exhibition industry’s leading industry body, Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, whilst applauding the report’s key recommendations, believes that any expansion of Sydney’s venue space needs to be a two-precinct strategy to ensure that the domestic market does not suffer in favour of international events.
The IPA report recommended the current Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre location as the best option for new or expanded venue capacity given its iconic location and scope to expand into the Sydney Entertainment Centre site.
“Currently, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre is not large enough for some major domestic and trade exhibitions such as The International Boat Show and Good Food & Wine which is constricting their growth, so increasing the available space at Darling Harbour is good news for our sector,” said Matthew Pearce, President, EEAA.
“But to enable Sydney to cater for the ensuing growth in larger international business events that expanded venue space will create, and the increased demand for venue availability at Darling Harbour, Sydney Showground at Homebush must be developed at the same time so that the domestic exhibition market does not suffer from a continuing shortage of purpose-built exhibition space.”
The IPA report identified that every year Australia hosts more than 300,000 business events involving more than 20 million participants. These events drive expenditure of more than $17 billion each year. NSW enjoys the lion’s share of these events, however Sydney is losing 220 business events every year, the economic equivalent of hosting a Rugby World Cup every year – or $65 million each year.
If current trends continue, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre’s economic contribution would decrease from its current $466 million pa to around $310 million pa over the next 30 years. IPA estimates a new centre will deliver additional economic benefit of between $160 and $270 million each year.