How Cairns beat the US to secure major science congress

Cairns Convention Centre's Janet Hamilton reveals how the bid was won.

Tourism Australia’s Business Events Bid Fund Program (BFP) has entered its second year and the industry is already seeing the impact of the funding.

Australia’s first ever federal government-funded bid fund of its kind, the BFP sees $12 million made available over three years to help convert new business events for the country.

Among the events secured is the 13th Congress on International Plant Molecular Biology, to be held in Cairns, Queensland in 2021. The event is expected to be worth $4.2 million of economic value for Australia.

Spice News spoke to Cairns Convention Centre general manager Janet Hamilton to find out how Cairns beat competition from Canada and the United States to secure the international congress.

Why was the BFP beneficial in securing the event?

To bid for the 13th Congress on International Plant Molecular Biology, the financial support was pivotal to get Australia to be considered, as we are perceived as distant and expensive compared to other destinations.

The bid RFP also requested subvention support from the host country, so by obtaining funding from Tourism Australia, it allowed us, Cairns Convention Centre, to be invited to actually submit a bid on behalf of Australia.

How did the BFP assist in making Australia a competitive host destination against other international bidders?

Australia was bidding against Canada and the United States to host the congress, both these countries were less expensive for delegates and they both also offered subvention support to the Society. The US has a similar, strong scientific community to Australia and was considered a very attractive option from a content perspective with a large number of Society members based in the US.

To strengthen our bid, fifty of Australia’s leading plant scientists in academia, government and industry were brought together to demonstrate our desire to host the meeting and to highlight the breadth of our scientific and agricultural sectors. Being able to offer the bid fund financial support to host the congress in Cairns reduced the risk to local organisers as well as the international Society, and it positioned Australia as a true contender to be the host nation.

How do you think the BFP positions Australia as a business events destination on the world stage?

The BFP levels the playing field, making Australia a true competitor in the international business events sector. It allows our country to highlight strengths within research fields and key industry sectors. The 13th International Congress on Plant Molecular Biology will focus on the importance of developing a multidisciplinary approach to face climate change, population increase and the pivotal role of plant molecular biology to fulfil the need for ecologically intensive farming.

Plant science, underpinned by molecular biology approaches, contributes significantly to the agricultural sector. Nationally this sector provides 93 per cent of domestic food supply, employs over 300,000 people and underpins $155 billion of production or 12 per cent of GDP.

At present 77 per cent of what is grown and produced in Australia is exported, earning $45 billion annually. This congress, confirmed for Australia by the Cairns Convention Centre with the assistance of the bid fund, will bring further investment, collaboration and knowledge exchange to this vital industry at an international level.

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