Brisbane deserves G20

Brisbane has every right to host the G20 World Leaders’ Summit in 2014.

BY BRAD FOSTER

All the protesting in the world about where the G20 World Leaders’ Summit in 2014 should be held in Australia are falling on deaf ears with Brisbane confirmed as the host city.
micenet AUSTRALIA was inundated with press releases claiming the event should be held in Australia’s gateway city, Sydney. But with a convention centre that will be closed during the event dates Sydney really wasn’t an option.
The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre has been announced as the official venue for the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
As the world’s premier forum for global economic cooperation and decision-making, bringing together leaders and finance ministers from countries which account for more than 85 per cent of global economic output, the G20 Summit will be a boom for the city.
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared Brisbane a world class city worthy of hosting the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, China and other nations, saying Brisbane was the ‘stand out city’ to host the leaders of the world’s biggest economies.
“Brisbane is a snapshot of our economy and the city’s logistics are excellent,” the Prime Minister said in her announcement, citing the world-class facilities of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Brisbane Airport as major factors in the selection process.
She said Brisbane’s convention centre was “a fantastic facility” and the airport well positioned to deal with the arrival of so many world leaders in a compressed time frame.
With trade and labour conferences to precede the G20 conference, about 7000 people are expected to attend, including 3000 accredited media.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman welcomed the announcement for the meeting.
“Hosting the G20 Leaders’ Summit will provide worldwide exposure to Queensland and a significant boost to our economy with around 7000 delegates and members of the media set to descend on our state,” Mr Newman said.
“The summit will provide a direct investment in Queensland through the use of a number of hotels, local service providers and will create jobs in the lead up and planning of the summit.”
Strong opposition for Brisbane securing the win came from NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, who denied that its decision to close the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre for a three-year re-build had cost Sydney the G20 Summit.
Mr Hazzard said the Prime Minister’s announcement that Brisbane would host the event was designed to foster goodwill in Queensland where Labor support had fallen in recent times.
Mr Hazzard said his government had made a strong offer of facilities around Circular Quay including the Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
But without a dedicated convention centre available, Brisbane was selected as the preferred city.
Joining the international leaders will be key officials from the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.
An independent study of the Seoul G20 in 2010 found South Korea enjoyed economic benefits of about $20 billion including new infrastructure, accommodation, global tourism promotions and awareness, as well as additional conferences being booked before and after the summit.
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, said the hosting of the G20 Leaders’ Summit would place Brisbane at the centre of world events.
“This is a unique opportunity to showcase Brisbane’s credentials as an international business destination as well as the world-class facilities of the convention centre and the city’s infrastructure,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Both the centre and Brisbane, he said, have a history of hosting large scale international events.
“I believe Brisbane and the centre will cope extremely well hosting the G20. We are very excited at the prospect and eagerly looking forward to the experience.
“Two major contributing factors in the selection of Brisbane as the host city were the world class facilities of the convention centre and the capability of the Brisbane airport. We have an impeccable track record when it comes to hosting large, complex events. We were the selected venue for CHOGM in October 2001, but as you know at the eleventh hour it was cancelled because of September 11. We hosted the Rotary International Convention with 15,000 delegates back in 2003 and the Goodwill Games and we are about to welcome more than 5000 delegates to the 34th International Geological Congress.
“With the opening this year of our $140 million expansion, BCEC on Grey Street, we are now equal in size to the largest convention centre in Australia. We now offer unprecedented flexibility and space and can easily accommodate five concurrent conferences.”
Another challenge will be dealing with such a diverse cultural group, particularly in relation to food, however, Mr O’Keeffe says the BCEC’s team of experienced chefs will deliver.
“We have enormous depth of talent and experience among our chefs who share 19 different cultures, cuisines and languages. We have previously implemented cultural awareness programs for very complex international meetings and providing up to 600 special dietary requests for each meal of a conference is a frequent occurrence. We are very accustomed to catering for prime ministers, heads of state, presidents and princes. During last year alone we catered for Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and the Dalai Lama.
Head of the Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau, Annabel Sullivan, said the G20 win is a testament to the world-class venues and convention facilities on offer in Brisbane – “Australia’s new world city”.
“Brisbane is well prepared for the G20 convention having spent millions of dollars on infrastructure and new facilities across the city,” she said.
“This includes the BCEC’s latest $140 million Grey Street expansion, as well as refurbishments at a number of Brisbane hotels including the Hilton Brisbane, Sofitel, Brisbane Marriott and Novotel Brisbane.
“The continued attraction and leveraging of conventions and business events in Brisbane is a significant part of the Lord Mayor’s plan for economic development in our city.”
Members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Britain, the United States and the European Union.
The Russian city of St Petersburg will host the G20 in 2013.

Business boom

Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive officer, Richard Munro, believes the local hotel sector will receive significant benefits from Brisbane hosting the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
“The status and number of international visitors to Australia for the G20 is likely to stimulate investment in both the number of tourism accommodation rooms in Brisbane, as well as existing rooms,” Mr Munro said.
“There will be numerous other benefits for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia. The G20 will create significant worldwide media attention for Brisbane, as well as regional parts of Queensland. Support meetings held alongside the G20 will fill accommodation rooms and conference rooms.
“The event will also enhance Brisbane and Queensland’s reputation and ability to host major international events.”
Mr O’Keeffe concurred, saying the eyes of the world will be on Brisbane in the lead up, during and post event.
“The world will know where Brisbane Australia is and what it represents. It will put Brisbane at the centre of world events and will have a huge impact on Brisbane’s reputation as an international business destination.
“There will also be infrastructure, education and business development legacies. With previous host cities there is evidence of increased interest from international conferences and meetings. I see it as a unique opportunity for global tourism promotion for Brisbane.”

Costs could skyrocket

The hosting of G20 Summits around the world have created plenty of debate on the real value of the meetings in contrast to the costs involved with hosting them.
An independent study of the Seoul G20 in 2010 found South Korea enjoyed economic benefits of about $20 billion including new infrastructure, accommodation, global tourism promotions and awareness, as well as additional conferences being booked before and after the summit.
There are expectations that Brisbane could experience similar results, however, some argue that the costs, particularly in relation to security, have a negative impact on any expected financial windfalls.
The 2010 G20 Summit held in Toronto, Canada, reportedly cost the government more than $850 million in security, infrastructure and hospitality initiatives.

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