A landmark study reveals the value of business events in Australia and the sector’s enormous potential in the post-mining boom economy.

Industry figureheads have been saying it for years and now we finally have the data to prove it, with a report commissioned by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) confirming the sector is a major driver of the Australian economy, with huge potential for future growth.

The first study of its kind in a decade, The Value of Business Events to Australia report, revealed that in the last financial year more than 37 million people attended more than 412,000 business events, including 178,000 events held in regional areas, which contributed $23.1 billion to Australia’s GDP.

In addition, these events contributed $28 billion in direct expenditure, $20.3 billion in added value, and provided 179,357 jobs.

The findings, released during Business Events Week in February, represent the first major research undertaken within the business events industry since 2005.

Matthew Hingerty, Chairman of BECA, said the study provided compelling evidence of the direct and indirect impact on the Australian economy and will demonstrate why governments and industry should continue to invest in the sector.

“Business events are an economic powerhouse – they foster trade, export, investment, diplomacy, education and knowledge transfer.

“They also generate employment, tax revenue and stimulate the visitor economy with their benefits spreading across both city and regional economies.

“This study demonstrates the enormous reach of business events beyond their tourism contributions and reveals how business events support all industries to deliver their goals; acting as levers to do business, launch new ideas, identify trends, spread news of research breakthroughs, and equipping people to meet the challenges of change,” Mr Hingerty said.

Minister for Trade and Investment, The Hon Andrew Robb said that business events are extremely important in promoting Australia to the world.

“The high-yield economic benefits of hosting business events are key contributors to the government’s economic diplomacy agenda, and are highly effective vehicles for driving industry growth, which is in keeping with the government’s trade and investment priority areas,” Minister Robb said.

While the report reveals the strength of the business events industry in Australia, on an international level, Australia has slipped in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings from 13th in 2012 to 16th in 2013.

“The report gives strong evidence of the power of our industry, however, on a world stage, we are losing market share,” Mr Hingerty said.

“We believe the business events sector is the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Australian economy. With an end to the mining boom and the decline in manufacturing, the sector has the ability to be a leading force for Australia’s future prosperity.

“This research is a clarion call to government but equally to us [as an industry]. It’s time to stop being the little brother of tourism and take our place as one of Australia’s most valuable industry sectors.

“This study will enable the business events sector to prove its dimension, influence and potential and provide a compelling picture of the power of business events.

“However, the business events industry and governments must work together to leverage this great opportunity before us,” Mr Hingerty said.

The full report is available at www.businesseventscouncil.org.au