BY BRAD FOSTER
Queensland city Mackay is expecting a bumper 2013 following healthy growth in 2012.
It’s fitting that Mackay, about one hour south of Airlie Beach and the awe-inspiring Whitsundays, saw considerable growth in the business events sector in 2012 – the year that marked the city’s 150th birthday.
The strong mining, beef, and seafood producing region has benefited from increased flights from major ports (with Virgin offering direct flights from Sydney), and a stronger national marketing push led by the Mackay Convention Bureau (www.mackayconventionbureau.com).
The bureau is a must for anybody considering holding a conference program in Mackay. As a division of Mackay Tourism Limited, the Mackay Convention Bureau can assist in the preparation and presentation of bid proposals including official letters of welcome, hosting of site inspections for organisers, introductions to product and service suppliers in the local area, sourcing, selection and advice on accommodation and venues, assistance in planning of social programs and itineraries, assistance with organising transfers, and much more.
One of the big bonuses for the regional destination – and clearly a contributing factor to its growing success – is the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre which in 2012 had a bumper year.
Sales and business development coordinator at the venue, Nicky Hansen, told micenet AUSTRALIA the entertainment and convention centre has an overall increase of 10 per cent in attendances to the centre as well as event bookings and performance hires.
“The centre has healthy conference bookings for 2013 despite the current downturn in mining sector business,” she said.
“[We are] heavily involved in promoting tourism generally for the region through landing big names in entertainment. Legendary rocker Blondie played to a sell out crowd in December 2012, and in March 2013 Mackay will be the only regional venue in Australia to host KISS with special guests Mötley Crüe, Thin Lizzy and Diva Demolition.”
The Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre is located in the heart of the city and can comfortably host up to 1500 delegates. With ample breakout space and indoor-outdoor areas it is well suited to not only major meetings but small conferences, cocktail parties and gala dinners.
Nearby accommodation includes the 79-room Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina, the 81-room Coral Cay Resort Motor Inn, and the 96-room Quest Mackay, which are all rated four-and-a-half stars.
out and about
But it’s not just the quality meeting and accommodation options available in Mackay that is fast developing the city’s reputation for a true regional alternative for events. The range of experiences beyond the four walls of meeting rooms puts it in an enviable position for the groups market.
With 31 beaches within easy reach of the city, the stunning Airlie Beach and township just one hour north, and the Cumberland Island group just off the coast which includes Brampton Island and Keswick Island, Mackay is a great spot from which to experience everything this part of Queensland has to offer.
In 2012 the region played host to some major events including the Reed Exhibitions Queensland Mining Engineering Exhibition & Conference attended by 12,000 trade visitors. Its size had the whole town rolling out the welcome mat with local restaurants and venues playing host to a range of corporate meetings and events connected to the show.
In June the North Queensland Sports Foundation hosted the North Queensland Games in Mackay which saw more than 5000 athletes competing in 30 plus sports, and a few months earlier the city played host to the 2012 Provincial Fellows Annual Scientific Meeting attended by members of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
on the radar
Despite already offering ample conference and accommodation options there are plans for future projects including a current proposal for a new city centre Quest Apartments, a hotel adjacent to the Mackay Entertainment Centre, and new facilities at Town Beach, East Point, and by the river.
Discussions are also focused on a hotel at Mackay Airport and construction of a second tower at the Clarion Hotel at Mackay Arena.
In other news the Mackay Botanic Gardens amphitheatre is under construction and the Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina expansion is underway or nearing the start of works.