The decision to host the G20 Summit in Brisbane highlights the dilemma faced by the exhibition and event industry which is still waiting for a government decision on interim facilities while new conference and exhibition facilities are built at Darling Harbour.
The peak body for the industry, The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), congratulated Brisbane on its selection to host this important meeting of world leaders.
EEAA General Manager Joyce DiMascio said the closure of the Darling Harbour facility for three years from the end of 2013 was already having an impact.
“We are delighted to see Brisbane having the opportunity to showcase to the world the quality of its new and expanded facilities and expertise in hosting international events,” said Ms DiMascio.
“At the same time we are concerned that several months after the announcement of the $1 billion redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment precinct we still have no solution for the major events that will be displaced during the construction period.
“We have been working constructively with Infrastructure NSW to find alternate venues but business is already being impacted for organisers who must plan and book exhibitions and events beyond December 2013. The G20 Summit decision is a worrying foretaste of the future if suitable alternate venues are not found soon.”
Ms DiMascio said that it was evident from the Federal Government’s decision to take the G20 to Brisbane that the quality of the venue, together with attributes of the host city, had a significant bearing on conference, exhibition and event business.
EEAA President Matthew Pearce, one of the largest organiser of events at Darling Harbour, said time was now a critical factor in the search for interim event facilities.
“While Sydney will have a sparkling new facility after 2016 it is clear from the G20 decision that a city without a Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment facility is at great disadvantage both nationally and on the global stage,” said Mr Pearce.
“We will be enduring significant pain, our sincere hope is that we come out of the period of unprecedented disruption with facilities that provide enough capacity to grow over the next 20 to 30 years.”
“At present we still have no certainty about interim venues for major events which has implications not only for our industry but the wider visitor economy.”