August 20, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Uluru Credit: Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia’s latest Consumer Demand Project for business events, which surveys international business events decision makers on perceptions of Australia as a business events destination and factors driving destination selection, has shown COVID-19 factors are the most significant for destination choice moving forward.

Key considerations are capacity limits for events, the perceived safety of the destination in relation to handling the pandemic and, for association decision-makers, the rollout of an effective vaccine is the main driver for resuming events overseas.

The good news for Australia is that it has been perceived as handling the pandemic well – although the research was conducted prior to wave of outbreaks and lockdowns Australia has been experiencing since June – however the usual barriers of distance, time and cost Australia faces for international business events visitation have been exacerbated by the pandemic, so we’ll have to wait longer for this positive perception to translate into business event business for Australia from international stakeholders. Australia’s closed borders have also taken us off the consideration list for medium term events.

That said, of the survey of 163 association decision-makers and 354 incentive decision-makers, 79 percent in the association sector say they will visit Australia for a business event in the next two years and 69 percent of incentive stakeholders said the same.

Amongst the more enduring destination factors – destination beauty, accommodation and business events infrastructure and options, local attractions and climate – Australia continues to be highly desirable as an event destination.

The research also suggestion business events decision-makers are more likely to stage a significant event once the pandemic is over to acknowledge the hardship over its duration, from which Australia may well benefit due to its frequent perception as a bucket list destination.

“By understanding what influences decision-makers when choosing a destination for business events we can deliver strategies that capitalise on these factors and ultimately help secure more business for Australia once international travel resumes,” said Tourism Australia’s Executive General Manager of Commercial and Business Events Australia, Robin Mack.

“This research is one of several projects Tourism Australia’s specialist unit, Business Events Australia, is delivering to help support recovery and Australia’s business events industry as it navigates the ongoing challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”