Australia’s multi-billion dollar business events industry has received a huge boost with the creation of a A$12m national bid fund. The funds will be made available over the next three years to support bids for new, high-value international incentive, association, and other business events.
The new Bid Fund Program will be live from 1 July 2018 for releasing funds and was announced by the federal minister for trade, tourism and investment, the Hon. Steven Ciobo MP, during a keynote address at the Destination Australia Conference in Melbourne.
“The Turnbull Coalition Government is focused on growing the lucrative business events sector,” minister Ciobo said.
“Business events travellers are high yielding, spending on average twice as much as a leisure visitor, often extending their visit to regional parts of Australia and returning for a holiday in the future; making them crucial to the broader Australian economy,” he added.
“In the increasingly competitive global world of business events, we recognise that more needs to be done to ensure that Australia maintains a competitive edge against other international destinations.
“Australia’s natural beauty, safety and stability and friendliness provides the perfect base to build a thriving business events sector.
“I am confident that this new bid fund will help ensure Australia remains top of the pack in terms of consideration for international incentive and association events,” the minister said.
John O’Sullivan, MD Tourism Australia said that being able to offer financial incentives to help convert bids of national significance into confirmed business would allow Australia to compete more aggressively with the many destinations that already operated national bid funds.
“More and more destinations across the world are operating national bid funds. Australia risks losing market share to our competitors if our business events industry is not able to compete on a level playing field. That’s why the new Tourism Australia Business Events Bid Fund Program is a game-changer, allowing us to grow our competitive advantage in this critical and lucrative segment of the visitor economy,” O’Sullivan said.
The fund is designed to offer financial support at the critical bidding stage of new international business events, although funds will only be provided for qualified international business events once the event is confirmed and contracted for Australia.
Penny Lion, executive general manager events Tourism Australia said: “The Tourism Australia Business Events Bid Fund provides yet another reason for international business events decision makers to choose Australia. It will deliver increased consideration for our country and provide new opportunities for our industry.”
The new bid fund will support expenditure on goods and services that assist in the delivery of events, for example accommodation or venue hire costs.
A prospectus for the new bid program is available online at www.australia.com/businessevents and outlines the mandatory eligibility criteria required to make a submission as well as a checklist and full terms and conditions.
Applications for the new Tourism Australia Business Events Bid Fund can be submitted via www.australia.com/businessevents from 1 May 2018, with access to the funds for successful applications available from 1 July 2018.
Reaction from Australia’s main industry association and venues was swift.
“This announcement is one of the most important developments for the business events industry in Australia to date,” said the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB’s) president and CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau, Karen Bolinger (pictured above).
“Recent figures released by Ernst & Young indicate that the business events industry contributes $30bn in direct expenditure and over 193,000 direct jobs each year.
“This investment will achieve strong results for Australians,” said Bolinger who reflected on Australia’s largest ever health conference held in Victoria, the 20th International AIDS Conference in 2014 (AIDS 2014) as an example of the impact of Federal support for business events.
“Without funding support from Federal Government, MCB would not have been able to secure AIDS 2014, which to date is the largest and most significant health conference ever held in Australia.
“AIDS 2014 bought the best people in the field to Victoria and showcased Victoria’s best talent in the sector. This drove new ideas, knowledge and techniques that increased industry productivity towards ending HIV. It also boosted the brand of Melbourne, and Australia as a leader and innovator in the health sector… Today marks an important step forward for the business events sector.”
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre chief executive, Peter King congratulated all industry partners within BECA (Business Events Council of Australia) and Tourism Australia’s Business Events team on successfully delivering this support.
“This funding is in addition to the ongoing investment made by the Victorian Government in both new infrastructure at the MCEC and funding business events attraction has ensured Victoria will retain its position as a global leader in the business events space.”
AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl described the timing of the investment is an important step in reversing the decline in Australia’s global ranking and market share.
“In 2016, Australia fell to 16th place in the International Congress and Convention Association’s country rankings, with global market share falling to 1.73%. A decade ago, Australia was consistently among the top 10 most popular countries to host major international association conventions.
“Our market intelligence shows a 14% decline in the number international bids won in 2017, while economic benefit is predicted to hold steady against 2016 due to increased delegate numbers and longer event durations overall.
“39% of international business lost by Australia in 2017 was due to travel distance, followed by 22% due to total event costs and financial incentives offered by competing countries.
“The strength of our bid delivery is already recognised worldwide. We are confident that this policy initiative will only increase our international competitiveness and attract more business events to Australia.”
Three hundred and sixty one international business events have already been secured for the future by the AACB’s members, with a further 236 bids in the pipeline, equating to a potential half a billion dollars in direct delegate expenditure.