The effects of the GFC are now well and truly behind Cairns and the tropical north QLD region, with business events at an all-time high.

In May this year Cairns helped cement its position as a global player in the competitive business events market by successfully hosting this country’s largest B2B event, Australian Tourism Exchange.

While some said it was a risk to hold this four-day trade exhibition in a regional area, concerns were unfounded, with the event being described as the “best ever” in some circles.

And why wouldn’t it when it’s being held in one of Australia’s most stunning destinations?

The Australian Tourism Exchange is Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event. It brings together Australia’s tourism industry in a forum to showcase their products directly to tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world, through a combination of scheduled business appointments and networking events. It is also a unique opportunity for international travel buyers to experience Australia first-hand.

Each year around 1200 Australian seller delegates from approximately 460 companies, 600 key buyer delegates from more than 38 countries, and more than 50 international and Australian media attend the event. In 2014, for the first time in its 35 year history, ATE was held in Cairns.

Up to the task, the Cairns Convention Centre doubled its floor space to 8000 square metres to accommodate the exhibition by using a custom-built hoecker. The Cairns Cruise Liner terminal was transformed using local suppliers for both the welcome and farewell events, and the community engagement program saw the whole city welcome the delegates to the city.

The event helped the Cairns Convention Centre record its busiest month since opening, and was topped off with the centre being named `World’s Best Congress Centre’ by the International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC) .

The AIPC Apex award is made bi-annually on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of centre performance based on customer satisfaction surveys. An independent “blind” evaluation process is carried out by Ipsos, a recognised international market research company, ensuring an objective analysis of the data which addresses factors including centre facilities, project management capabilities, catering and technical capacity.

In accepting the award in Berlin, Cairns Convention Centre general manager, Ross Steele, said it is a fantastic honour and accolade for Cairns and the dedicated, hard-working AEG Ogden team that operates the venue.

The Cairns centre also won the award in 2004 and has consistently ranked highly in AIPC surveys since.

The award presentation came just weeks after the centre celebrated its biggest month since opening in 1996 which came on the back of high praise for the delivery of ATE.

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Leanne Coddington, said: “The feedback from our team here at Tourism and Events Queensland was that Cairns Convention Centre over delivered on every aspect of the event through the planning process of ATE as well as during the event days.”

“The positive feedback we received from our clients during our busiest month since opening, coupled with the AIPC award which is measured by client satisfaction has provided outstanding endorsements of our world-class standards and consistent quality,” Mr Steele added.

“Achieving World’s Best Congress Centre from 170 leading venues in 54 countries provides significant credibility to Cairns as an international convention destination.”

July was another busy month for the centre, hosting three international meetings including:

  • International Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects (500 PAX)
  • 51st Annual Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation “The Future of Tropical Biology and Conservation” (1000 PAX)
  • World Buiatrics Congress (800 PAX)