by Penny Lion, head of Business Events Australia, Tourism Australia

Australian tourism is on the rise and working towards achieving the shared industry goal of growing overnight visitor expenditure to as much as $115 billion annually by the end of the decade as part of the broader Tourism 2020 strategy.

Currently, tracking at $88.9 billion we still have some work ahead to ensure we reach our target. However, we remain optimistic given the performance across the sector remains strong and business events in particular continues to offer significant opportunities.

In 2009, business events delegate visitor expenditure contributed A$9.6 billion to the Australian economy. In the time since, it has grown to A$13 billion annually and we believe the sector has the potential to contribute up to A$16 billion by 2020 – particularly when you factor in the high desirability of what we have to offer and the strategies in place to realise the opportunities before us.

Research shows that globally Australia continues to consistently rank highly as a destination for business events, ranking either first or second against 45 other destinations as a place offering world-class beauty and natural environments, local cuisine and wine, outstanding business events facilities, quality accommodation and exclusive experiences.

Above all the capabilities of Australia’s people has seen our business events industry flourish – where a can-do attitude coupled with fresh thinking and innovation prevails alongside creativity and a desire to succeed.

However, in an increasingly competitive business environment it is important we continue to stay ahead of the game. As such we are placing a greater emphasis on the markets offering the greatest return on investment. This also includes investing in these markets by segment – with a focus on incentive and/or association meetings business. To give an example, in Greater China and New Zealand we will concentrate on attracting Incentive business whilst in the United Kingdom and Europe our efforts are set firmly on Associations. In the United States of America we will focus on both the Incentive and Association segments.

A highlight of course of this program is our signature event Dreamtime, Australia’s largest business events showcase aimed at attracting international business.

Held biennially, Dreamtime allows us to connect the Australian business events industry with qualified buyers from key markets overseas – and we’re expecting more than 70 this year.

With South Australia’s capital, being selected as this year’s host destination, the timing is perfect for our international buyers to witness the city’s unprecedented levels of new infrastructure development and to enjoy a fantastic array of experiences on offer in both Adelaide and beyond.

When you factor in Australia’s proximity to the growing economies of Asia, and its reputation as leader in several industry sectors, our destination offers an unbeatable combination of strengths for both the incentive market and association events.

We look forward to working with our partners across government and industry in the year ahead to deliver initiatives to enable us to realise the business events opportunity for Australia.

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