The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement that it would create an interim site at Glebe Island for major exhibitions displaced during the three year redevelopment of Darling Harbour’s Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
EEAA has been working closely with Infrastructure NSW to find a suitable interim venue with the capacity to stage major consumer and trade exhibitions throughout 2014-2016 while the new centre is being built.
EEAA general manager Joyce DiMascio said it was good news that Sydney could stay open for business during the rebuilding of the centre at Darling Harbour and the industry looked forward to being fully briefed on the details of the site.
“We are pleased the Government is committed to business continuity. Identifying Glebe Island Expo is an important milestone, but even more important now is getting the finer details and speeding up the process as this decision is months overdue,” DiMascio said.
“There are tens of thousands of people whose income is derived through the staging of exhibitions – the benefits also spill over to hotels, hospitality and retail all over the city. Exhibitions and events generate around 2 million visitors a year to Sydney so are crucial to the economy.
“Glebe Island is close to the city and offers a solution for the Sydney International Boat Show, one of the 65 major events affected by the closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. It is in everybody’s interest to make sure this site works.”
EEAA is pleased that some of the big events like the Australian International Motor Show has chosen to relocate to Sydney Olympic Park but this venue does not have the space or suitability to host all displaced events. The Government is still to outline its long-term plans for Sydney Olympic Park.
“The reality is that Sydney needs a dual precinct strategy for major events infrastructure – we welcome the Government’s investment in the renewal of Darling Harbour and providing an interim site . In the future, we’d like it to also consider further improvements to Sydney Olympic Park.” she said.
Diversified Exhibitions CEO Matt Pearce said he welcomed the decision to open up Glebe Island but his company was still not in a position to begin planning for 2014 events.
“The devil is in the detail,” said Pearce. “We still do not know who will be running the site, how much space will be available and the configuration of that space.
“We do not yet know who will design and build the facility which still needs to be put to tender. We can surmise that this process will take at least another two or three months and then we are into 2013 before we can give any firm assurances to exhibitors.”
Diversified Exhibitions organises up to six major exhibitions in Sydney that require more than 15,000sqm of exhibition space for each event, including Australia’s pre-eminent international food industry event, Fine Food Australia.
Domenic Genua, marketing and events manager for the Boating Industry Association of NSW, which owns and organises the Sydney International Boat Show, said Glebe Island could present a workable solution that would allow the display of boats in the water to continue at Darling Harbour with under cover display at Glebe Island.
“The boating industry is dependent on the Sydney International Boat Show. Twenty five per cent of annual revenue comes from sales and leads generated at the Show. If we were unable to run the event, we’d jeopardise 7,000 jobs,” Genua said.
Debbie Evans, CEO of Reed Exhibitions, which stages Australia’s largest trade exhibition, the Reed Gift Fair, reiterated the need for quick action.
“What we need from Infrastructure NSW now is to work very closely and very quickly with the organisers on the detail. We need to make up for lost ground and sort out the infrastructure that is required to make this site work so that it draws visitors and exhibitors.”
Evans said many international exhibitions and events were staged successfully in temporary structures and there was no difficulty with being in a semi-permanent facility for three years but it had to be a good looking structure with wow factor.
The Reed Gift Fair, held in Sydney in February, is one of Australia’s iconic shows. It caters for more than 700 exhibitors attracting 27,000 buyers from all over Australia. Close to $100 million worth of business is generated over and above the five days of the Fair.
The Government has appointed Transfield subsidiary APP to run the tender to design, build and operate the interim facility. DiMascio said EEAA looked forward to working with APP to ensure an optimal outcome from the Glebe Island interim venue.