A Meetings and Events Australia Industry Leaders breakfast held at the ICC Sydney on 28 November 2019 heard that Tourism Australia’s Bid Fund had successfully converted 28 international bid wins in its first year to 1 May 2019.
Tourism Australia’s Executive GM Penny Lion said these bids represented A$306m (US$209.4m) in economic impact and a further 115 event applications are currently in the pipeline that would deliver an additional A$566m in economic value.
The MEA breakfast event also heard an update from Austrade on the Tourism 2030 Strategy all adding to what MEA CEO Robyn Johnson called ‘positive news’ for the sector.
Lynne Ashpole, Assistant General Manager, Policy and Coordination at Austrade and Austrade’s Chief Economist, Heather Cotching updated the audience on the new industry strategy that will succeed the current Tourism 2020 Strategy replacing ‘tourism’ with the term ‘visitor economy’ and emphasising that the business events sector has a strong case for increased prominence in this realignment.
Austrade reaffirmed the importance of the visitor economy to Australia as one of our highest performing sectors, with a growth rate of 5.8% in 2018. However, Austrade noted that performance measurements and targets needed to be expanded from simple numbers and broken down into specific sectors.
A set of indicators and framework is still at the concept stage and is yet to receive ministerial support. “This would provide an opportunity for the events industry to be more clearly identified as a key sector worthy of its own government-endorsed targets,” said Ms Johnson.
ICC Sydney MD and Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) Deputy Chair, Geoff Donaghy, reminded attendees that BECA not only introduced the term business events, which has a growing international uptake, it has also argued to move ‘beyond tourism’ to more correctly encompass the whole visitor economy. BECA supports the proposed change to ‘visitor economy’ as do all the Australian state and territory governments, most of which have already taken up its usage.
Donaghy reminded the audience that BECA successfully lobbied Tourism Australia to introduce targets for business events in the 2020 strategy. The target has been easily met, and the overall tourism revenue figure is well on the way to reaching its ‘stretch target’ of A$140bn by the end of next year.
“A broader set of performance measurements should play well for business events,” added Johnson. “The benefits of business events ripple well beyond visitor numbers and spend, flowing into other areas such as trade, exports, investment and education.”
A new 2030 Strategy will be launched in January 2021 and will require a whole-of-government approach.
A major theme of the 2030 Strategy is likely to be regional dispersal, very much a focus of government at the moment. Another ongoing issue is the labour and skills shortage which Austrade’s Lynne Ashpole noted had been raised in the 2020 Strategy but had not yet been adequately addressed.