AUSTRALASIA - The peak body for Australia's meetings industry, the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), has congratulated Brisbane on its win to host the G20 Summit. However, it said the three-year closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre until 2013 was “already having an impact”.
EEAA General Manager Joyce DiMascio said the decision to take the G20 Summit to Brisbane highlights the dilemma faced by the event industry which is still waiting for a Government decision on interim facilities, while new conference and exhibition facilities are built at Darling Harbour.
“We are delighted to see Brisbane having the opportunity to showcase to the world the quality of its new and expanded facilities and expertise in hosting international events,” said DiMascio. “At the same time we are concerned that several months after the announcement of the AU$1bn (US$1.02bn) redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct we still have no solution for the major events that will be displaced during the construction period.”
She said the EEAA has been working constructively with Infrastructure NSW to find alternate venues, but business is already being impacted for organisers who must plan and book events beyond December 2013. “The G20 Summit decision is a worrying foretaste of the future if suitable alternative venues are not found soon,” she added.
EEAA President Matthew Pearce, one of the largest organisers of events at Darling Harbour, said time was now a critical factor in the search for interim event facilities. “While Sydney will have a sparkling new facility after 2016, it is clear from the G20 decision that a city without a convention, exhibition and entertainment facility is at great disadvantage both nationally and on the global stage,” he added.
The lack of a world-class convention centre, according to New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell, has cost Sydney AUS$150m (US$144m) in lost business and economic impact over the last four years.
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was constructed in 1988 and, despite an expansion in 1999, is in need of further modernisation and expansion.
New facilities, as reported in CMW previously, will include the biggest meeting room space in Australia at 6,000sqm, largest exhibition space in the country at 40,000sqm, and eventually a plenary hall able to accommodate more than 10,000 delegates.
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