May 14, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

Queensland is a big place when it comes to business events and all around the vast sunshine state there is a bounty of major new infrastructure.

While the state has been severely impacted by the absence of international visitors, the domestic market has kept the business events sector ticking along. The threat of border closures and lockdowns have put some dampeners on the return of corporate business and event travel, but wherever possible venues and events have continued to operate.

Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Leanne Coddington, said the agency had continued to work closely to support the business events sector.

“The impacts of COVID-19 on the business events sector have been very challenging, but we are forward-focused on where the opportunities will be in the future,” Coddington said.

“We launched the National Business Events Program of support in March 2021 to incentivise national conferences and business events to be held in Queensland and we are very positive about the interest that’s been shown through that program.

“We are also hearing positive reports from industry stakeholders as the desire to meet face-to-face is returning and enquiries are increasing.”

And major capacity building will stem from the huge investment in tourism and business events infrastructure.

“There is a raft of new venues available – particularly in Brisbane but also all around the state – that will really wow people who haven’t visited recently, from five-star hotels to the first stage of refurbishment of the Cairns Convention Centre.

“There are many exciting projects underway that will continue to keep Queensland’s offering fresh, exciting and enticing.

“Venues and industry stakeholders have worked very hard to create COVID-Safe environments for business events and organisers can be confident of delegate safety here in Queensland.

“And as international travel opens up, we are poised ready to welcome international business events back, where Queensland’s safety record will be highly regarded and our new infrastructure and famous hospitality will be ready to welcome them,” she said.

According to Tourism and Events Queensland the pipeline for new business events and conference infrastructure includes:

  • The $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf integrated resort development, due to open in 2022, will be the most significant investment in Brisbane’s business conference and events infrastructure, including 1,000 new hotel rooms, a 1,000 seat ballroom, new hotels and events facilities as well as outdoor events spaces and a riverfront moonlight cinema.
  • Proposals are in for new facilities supporting business conferences and events at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club in Yeppoon, at the new Maroochydore CBD, as well as the $2 billion Brisbane Live precinct, being considered as part of Brisbane’s Cross River Rail development.
  • Several hotels across Queensland have recently announced significant refurbishments, including existing business and events infrastructure, which will support the business and events markets in Queensland. A number of properties are also rebranding:
  • New IHG Voco Brisbane City Centre and Hotel Indigo Brisbane City Centre (rebrand of current Mercure Brisbane and Ibis Brisbane respectively)
  • New Amora Hotel Brisbane (rebrand of current Novotel Brisbane)

In addition, Queensland has recently seen delivery of significant investment in infrastructure supporting business conferences and events, including:

  • Ongoing refurbishment and extension of the Cairns Convention Centre ($179 million)
  • New Sunshine Coast Convention Centre at the Novotel Twin Waters ($8 million)
  • Completed stages of The Star Gold Coast’s $2 billion transformation, which has already delivered additional meeting room space and event facilities and an Event Centre refresh
  • Hotel refurbishment and rebrand to JW Marriott Gold Coast (former Marriott International) ($35 million)
  • Hotel rebuild and rebrand of Crystalbrook Flynn in Cairns (former Bellview Hotel) ($120 million)
  • Development of Howard Smith Wharves precinct in Brisbane, which delivered seven new business and event spaces as well as the new Fantauzzo Art Series Hotel ($200 million)

Top image: Impression of the new Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane