by Joyce DiMascio, chief executive Exhibition and Event Association of Australaisa

There is one thing the exhibition and events sector is good at and that is at adapting to change and opportunity. And it couldn’t be truer than now.

A wide-range of factors are influencing the business environment in this sector – global and national economic conditions, post-mining and resources boom adjustments, emerging new industries – and major changes to the way people do business and communicate.

If all of this wasn’t enough, we have also accommodated the business disruption caused by the redevelopment of Darling Harbour in Sydney.

With just one year to go before the commencement of test events at ICC Sydney in September 2016 ahead of the official opening in December 2016, the excitement is palpable. Anyone who has been anywhere near Darling Harbour knows the speed at which the structures are taking shape.

Indeed, there is a total transformation of Sydney occurring and this has to be good for the whole country. When our cities are thriving and infrastructure is renewed, everybody wins.

With the opening of Barangaroo Reserve in late August a beautiful new headland has been returned to the community. From this vantage point it is possible to see the scale of the renewal of the western harbour in Sydney. Let there be no doubt, Sydney will be revitalised as a result of the major infrastructure investments of the Baird Government.

In early September, NSW Premier Mike Baird proudly declared the redevelopment of Darling Harbour was on-time and on budget. This is a great achievement and a tribute to the hundreds of workers whose labour and skill is transforming Sydney.

We are being very well served by the temporary facilities at Glebe Island and the venues around the city and country that are hosting relocated shows following the closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The opening of the new facility in Sydney and the expansion of Melbourne’s exhibition facilities at the MCEC couldn’t come soon enough.

Trade and consumer exhibitions are major drivers of business activity and contribute substantially to the profitability of venues and have a wide economic footprint.

The EY study produced for the Business Events Council of Australia and launched at AIME 2015 provided new vital data on the scale of the exhibition sector.

EY reports in 2013/14 there were 2,157 exhibitions staged in Australia attracting 9.3 million visitors and 65,000 exhibitors.

These numbers show the scale of the expo sector – more significant is that our sector stimulated $3.1 billion dollars in expenditure and direct value-add of $1.5million and generated over 21,000 fulltime equivalent jobs.

We continue to take this message about the Power of Exhibitions to Governments and their agencies – Australia benefits enormously from a thriving business events sector and expos are a key part of it.

Without exhibitions, the profitability of our major venues would suffer. The EEAA Market Monitor for 2014 shows that for some venues, expos generate over 30 per cent of their business. For some venues, this is trending upwards.

Trade and consumer expos are important drivers of business, trade, investment, employment, knowledge sharing and of course, the visitor economy.

If you are working in the world of exhibitions, know that what you deliver is vitally important to the economy of Australia. In challenging economic times – or during this period of enormous change – Australia’s exhibition and events sector continues to demonstrate its resilience and adaptability.

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