ANDREW Hiebl, CEO, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux
Conferencing in Regional Australia
With the newfound focus on regions, Australian Regional Tourism asked the question at their recent conference ‘Is Regional Australia ready for the Spotlight?’.
This is a significant point of interest as the Australian Government and industry seek to disperse business opportunities into regional Australia to drive economic benefit to local communities doing it tough.
Business events provide opportunities for regional Australia through:
- Hosting business events outright;
- Hosting satellite meetings and technical tours;
- Pre- and post-touring options for large-scale international conventions in city centres;
- Access to export markets on home soil; and
- The supply of regional produce through convention centre and hotel offerings.
The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) recently brought together 40 of the business events industry’s most influential leaders to meet with Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam in the newly created role of Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism.
The event allowed the opportunity to highlight the importance of business events to regional destinations.
The collective industry voice identified barriers to growth including:
- Regional infrastructure;
- Access and connectivity;
- The need for visa reform; and
- Labour and skills challenges.
However, the potential for regional Australia is a significant one.
A recent survey of Australian corporate event organisers conducted by Executive PA showed that while the corporate event market is softening, the support for hosting business events in regional Australia continues to grow.
The 2019 survey found that EAs reporting they had organised events in regional Australia rose from 29% in 2018 to 37%. Further, the proportion of EAs choosing regional Australia for two or more events over the past two years has increased. In fact, over a third of the responses indicated they held five or more events in regional Australia.
Analysis released by the AACB earlier this year also highlighted that convention bureaux across the country had secured 605 domestic business events for their respective destinations, taking place up to 2025, and expected to attract some 250,000 Australian delegates plus an additional 7,400 from overseas.
While a substantial share of these events will be held in our capitals, a healthy calendar of international business events in the cities will pivot more domestic interest towards regions.
Changes announced by the Australian Government in August to Tourism Australia’s Business Events Bid Fund eligibility criteria have also made the program more accessible to regional Australia by lowering certain thresholds.
These changes improve our global competitiveness by providing greater access to crucial funding to help secure international business events.