January 25, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo
As experts debate whether Adelaide has turned the corner this week in its COVID infection rate, the festival city is pushing ahead with major events, some adjusted for COVID safety.
Its renowned cycling event, the Santos Tour Down Under is currently underway in a different guise to previous years, becoming the Santos Festival of Cycling 2022, because international border closures mean it cannot be an international cycling race this year.
Adelaide Convention Bureau’s General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Nic Mercer described the feeling in the city, saying, “there’s a few nervous Nellies”. But even though crowds might be smaller organisers are proceeding with major event the Adelaide Fringe Festival scheduled for March 4-20.
And while some business events had been impacted, Mercer said the Bureau was determined to continue its annual business events marketing event, Destination SA in late February.
General Manager of Adelaide Convention Centre, Simon Burgess, said, “While we have seen a series of national events move from January and February, these have simply postponed to later in the year, rather than cancelled.
“We are continuing to witness strong interest in the destination and a pent-up demand for live, face-to-face events and are working in close partnership with our clients on their continued planning.”
Meanwhile the Bureau is looking forward to AIME.
“We are also excited for AIME this year,” says Mercer.
“We’ve had a good response from members who wanted to be there face-to-face…so that’s a positive.”
He reflected on what might have been as Adelaide started 2020 with a strong pipeline including international events, three of which would bring more than 3,000 delegates to the city, plus another two incentive events from China with 8,000 and 6,000 participants.
“We had deliberately gone after international events so that was disappointing to have COVID get in the way, but we are continuing to bid for events based on some of the new technologies and precincts we have developed.”
A recent bid by Adelaide to again host the world’s major space convention resulted in Adelaide coming a close second – five votes to four – to Milan which has a multi-billion dollar annual budget against $40 million in Australia. Another bid for that event is not out of the question.
Meanwhile he said the Bureau continued to secure national events and further build relationships with international markets including mainland China.
“They consider us a clean, green post-COVID destination,” says Mercer.