Lyn Lewis-Smith, chief executive officer, Business Events Sydney

The future’s bright

Heading into the second half of 2017, Sydney is better placed than ever to host international business events.

There is no doubt the past three years have been challenging, as we have replaced our old, outdated convention centre. But they have also been very rewarding, and we should be proud that we were still rated Australia’s number one destination for conferences during that period.*

We have remained a city open for business, and that’s testament to the commitment and collaboration of the New South Wales (NSW) Government, our industries and our universities. In particular, the hotels and retailers who ensured delegates continued to enjoy a fantastic experience throughout this period.

With our new International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) now in full operation, Sydney has the capacity and facilities to host the world’s biggest, most prestigious business events, and in the next 18 months we will welcome the International Bar Association 2017, World Congress of Accountants 2018 and SIBOS 2018 to name just a few.

Securing these major events will ensure that Sydney remains a strong global destination, and means we will continue to attract the world’s brightest and best to these shores. This creates opportunities to stimulate our own knowledge economy, spark global collaborations and help establish best practice. It also improves trade and development and generates jobs in key industries.

Business events will always provide a short-term boost to the visitor economy. But it’s this longer-term social, cultural and economic legacy that continues to increase the overall value of these events long after they have finished.

As I write this, Business Events Sydney (BESydney) has secured over 150 international business events that will see more than 152,000 delegates visit Sydney and NSW over the next seven years. We expect these events to contribute an estimated $520 million to the economy. Yet we are only just starting to tap into the real potential of this industry.

There are approximately 12,000 international meetings that rotate around the world annually, and many more that take place every few years, so there is massive potential to grow this market. With the strong cross-sector partnerships we’ve developed with all areas of government, industry and academia — and now a modern, centrally-located convention centre up and running — we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of that opportunity.

More and more people I speak to are seeing the real value that business events bring to the Australian economy, and we’re seeing ever-increasing levels of government engagement as these events support key areas of the state and federal policy agendas.

The future for business events in Sydney and Australia has never been brighter. And I have never been so excited about playing a part in shaping that future.

* International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Country and City Rankings report


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