The Turnbull Coalition Government has unveiled plans to launch Australia’s first ever federal government-funded business events bid fund in an attempt to attract more conferences, exhibitions and meetings to the country.
Announced today (15 March) by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo MP at the Destination Australia Conference in Melbourne, the Bid Fund Program will see $12 million made available over three years to help increase the conversion of new business events for Australia.
The Program will offer financial support at the bidding stage for international corporate incentive trips, exhibitions, association conferences, and congresses, as well as going towards covering costs associated with the delivery of an event within Australia.
Minister Ciobo said:
“To help create new Australian jobs, we want visitors who are going to spend more, get out into the regions and importantly come back for another trip. This is the type of traveller attracted by business events.
“We will help provide Australia with a competitive advantage when bidding to secure new high-value international business events through the establishment of Australia’s first ever federal government-funded business events bid fund.
Managed by Tourism Australia’s dedicated business events unit Business Events Australia, applications for the fund will open on 1 May 2018, with access to funds for successful applicants available from 1 July 2018.
Speaking to Spice News, John O’Sullivan, Managing Director, 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.
“Business events are very important in the segment for us. We believe there is a great opportunity to increase yield and increase dispersal and promote Australia’s strengths as a country – and not just on the nature of food and wine and natural beauty, but also some of the more innovative sub-sectors that we have.
“This is about new international business, with significant economic impact and this is something that the country hasn’t seen before. We see some of these events are generating $30 million or $50 million and that is based on the visitation that is linked to these business events.
“We know there is big demand out of China, for example, and we know there is big demand out of the US, and Europe has traditionally been very strong on the Association business side. We also think New Zealand is a market that we can tap more and more.
“Since I took the role, the business events community has been very upfront with Tourism Australia and various ministers about the opportunity, and full credit to them.”
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.”
Minister Ciobo added: “The Turnbull Coalition Government recognises more needs to be done to ensure that Australia maintains a competitive edge against other international destinations also competing for these events.
“The Business Events sector is one of Australian tourism’s most lucrative, with visitors spending, on average, twice as much as those on leisure holidays. These are exactly the type of tourists we want visiting Australia. The more conventions, conferences and exhibitions Australia hosts, the more top-tier travellers we’ll get visiting our country.
“The impact of business events is far reaching, with the visitors who travel to them often extending their stay to regional parts of Australia and more likely to return for a holiday in the future. Hotels, restaurants, transport services and entertainment all benefit when there’s a big convention in town.
The value of the business events sector is currently estimated at between $14 billion and $28 billion to the Australian economy. Last year, the Perfect China conference, held across numerous destinations, brought approximately 3,000 delegates to Australia, injecting around $42 million into the economy; while the Sibos conference being held in Sydney in October is expected to attract 6,000 attendees.
“Australia has a lot to offer; our natural beauty, safety and stability, and friendliness. It’s the perfect base to build a thriving business events secto,” said Minister Ciobo.
“Tourism Australia’s research shows a lot of people aspire to visit Australia but never get around to booking a trip. If Australia is hosting a conference, it’s the perfect reason for them to visit.
“Hosting more conferences, exhibitions and meetings will help Australia convert people from ‘aspiring to visit’, to actually visiting. More tourists means more spending, which is what our small businesses need to grow, expand and employ more people.
“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.”
So far, the Australian events industry has reacted positively to the news of the fund, welcoming further support from the Government. CEO of the International Convention Centre Sydney Geoff Donaghy, said: “ICC Sydney welcomes the establishment of the national government bid fund. Having just completed a roadshow of four Asian cities to strengthen relationships and acquire new business across the region, the announcement is very timely.”
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.
More to follow.