The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) welcomes the move by Federal Government to protect Tourism Australia from tough budget cuts. Contrary to the recent Commission of Audit Report Recommendation 33(a) to halve funding for Tourism Australia, the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP has confirmed an increase for Tourism Australia in the 2014 Federal Budget.
Executive Director of AACB, Andrew Hiebl says, “Any cuts to Tourism Australia’s funding would have certainly reduced our capacity to attract international business events in what is already a highly competitive market. Australia’s convention bureaux recognise their collective responsibility to promote Australia as a premier international business events destination. To achieve this in a seamless and united approach, they rely on their partnership with Tourism Australia to promote to traditional markets in Europe and North America, as well as emerging markets in Asia.”
“Furthermore, a strong Tourism Australia is essential to reach the Tourism 2020 target set for business events of $16 billion in total overnight expenditure – noting that currently 17% of all international visitors to Australia and 21% of all international visitor expenditure is derived from delegates attending some form of business event (Tourism Research Australia 2013).”
According to Minister Robb, tourism has been identified as one of five National Investment Priorities as part of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy to build a strong and prosperous economy.
AACB President, Lyn Lewis-Smith says, “This shows real leadership and an understanding of the benefits that the visitor economy generates. International delegates attracted by convention bureaux are Australia’s highest yielding visitor based on per day expenditure. Overnight expenditure by international delegates in 2012 was valued by Tourism Research Australia at $2.7 billion, in new money to the country.”
“In addition to the direct expenditure generated by international business events, the sector drives economic growth for the nation by stimulating trade, encouraging foreign investment, fostering innovation, transferring knowledge, attracting global talent and promoting cultural exchange. Most importantly, business events showcase Australia as a great place to do business on a global stage.”
AACB also commends the Government on the 2014 Federal Budget in the following areas:
- $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund: With Medical Sciences being the most common subject matter of international association meetings, representing 17.2% from 2008-12 (ICCA 2013), establishing the largest fund of its kind in the world will position Australia as a global leader in this field. This will add strategic strength to Australia’s bidding efforts and credibility as a host destination.
International medical conventions attracted to Australia bring with them world leaders contributing their expertise to collaboration, innovation to solve problems, and investment in new technologies and medicines.
- Growing demand from Asia: Allocating the $13.5 million Asia Marketing Fund to Tourism Australia will capitalise on emerging opportunities, noting that 30% of international delegates currently come from Asia. The $2 million investment to stage Australia Week in China again in 2016 will reinforce Australia’s brand in one of our fastest growing markets. A further $10 million will also be committed in new funding for the Australia-China Approved Destination Status scheme, to improve the visitor experiences of Chinese visitors.
- Export Market Development Grant (EMDG): The $50 million boost and ongoing support of the EMDG scheme will assist convention bureaux and small to medium sized tourism businesses access international markets. AACB encourages Government to further leverage the trade opportunities that international conventions and exhibitions bring to Australian businesses by hosting these events on ‘home soil’.
- Visa Reforms: The previously announced three year multiple entry visa for Chinese business visitors will increase the prospect of repeat visits and add strategic advantage to Australia when marketing to the Chinese corporate incentives sector.
While the 2014 Federal Budget is a positive one for business events in tough circumstances, we do note in the Response to the Commission of Audit Report by the Treasurer and Minister for Finance that the window is still open on Recommendation 33, as they relate to Tourism Australia funding and the EMDG scheme, following the 2014/15 Budget. AACB strongly urges Government to reject this recommendation.