The impact of the Asian Century on Australia’s MICE industry sparked much discussion at the Australian Business Events Expo and Sydney’s Event Showcase held in August.

By LAUREN ARENA

Speaking at the event, NSW Deputy Premier, the Hon Andrew Stoner, said “Business events are a key driver for the NSW economy, contributing to both tourism dollars but also a thriving knowledge economy… and 51 per cent of inbound events secured by Business Events Sydney hail from Asia.”
“We know that when NSW fires, the nation booms and a targeted program to the Asian market will not only benefit NSW, but the entire nation.
“The Asian century represents a once in a generation opportunity for the Australian business events sector,” he said.

In a discussion about the corporate and association-market opportunities to come out of Asia, Business Events Sydney chief executive, Lyn Lewis-Smith, said the biggest change for Australian business is that Asia is now not only the largest producers of goods and services, but also the largest consumers.
Assessing the visitor economy benefits from the Asian century, Tourism Australia managing director, Andrew McEvoy, said while Western markets are starting to grow, the Asian market is booming.

“Exponential growth is coming from the region in which we live – we’re a western developed nation in the heart of Asia, so we provide a point of difference but we’re so much more accessible. This is a great opportunity, but it’s not one that’s coming, it’s here and now,” he said.

Mr McEvoy also cited recent visitor statistics, saying a two per cent increase in overall business event arrivals in 2011-2012 was led by steep rises from both India (25 per cent) and China (13 per cent), which offset declines from other markets.
“In global terms Australia is 43rd for visitor arrivals out of 180 countries, but we’re number eight in the world for total spend by those international visitors and we’re number one in the world for spend per visitor.”
Thanks to Asia’s rapidly expanding market, growth within the Australian business events sector is increasing at a much more rapid pace than was originally anticipated by Tourism Australia just three years ago when the body formulated its Tourism 2020 Plan to enhance growth and competitiveness in the industry.
“When we wrote the plan, the business events sector was worth just over $8 billion with the aim of doubling it to $16 or $17 billion. Its already well on the way and we think that our targets for business events by 2020 are actually conservative,” he said.

The body will now “recalibrate” its current 2020 targets and set even more ambitious targets for the sector, which will be largely built in response to the increasing demand coming out of Asia.
The business events sector is also driving overall growth for Australia’s tourism industry, which has increased by five-six per cent over the last year.
“As corporate and educational travel have slowed down a bit, the stars of the show have been business events and leisure,” Mr McEvoy said.
The national tourism body continues to work closely with bureaux across the nation, transferring its ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ leisure campaign through to the business events sector.
Mr McEvoy stated the perception of Australia as a safe destination to visit, along with world-class natural beauty and unique food and wine offerings are the focal points of the campaign.

“The world is travelling more and more on its belly and conference delegates want to know they will eat well and drink well,” he said.
“It’s a story we want to tell much more powerfully when we’re pitching for corporate meeting and incentives… People know and accept that we have strong conference and convention centres and great hotels, but this is the sizzle.”
Mr McEvoy cited the recent 3000 pax Perfect China incentive group that came to Sydney in July as a significant case study. You can read more about this on page 6.

ABU DHABI

The New Nuclear International Conference – a major gathering of global experts focused on the development of peaceful nuclear energy – is being held in Abu Dhabi next month (November) with up to 700 delegates from around the world due to attend. The conference, which will run at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal from November 11-14, is being presented by the Goodnight Consulting Corporation and organised by Carlisle Events. In partnership with Emirates Nuclear Energy, the conference will bring international experts to provide delegates with key know-how in the initiation, design and launch of peaceful nuclear energy programs. The conference has the backing of the World Organization of Nuclear Operators, the World Nuclear Association, Arab Atomic Energy Association and the US-UAE Business Council.

KUALA LUMPUR

The Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) recently launched its Association Development Programme (ADP). ADP aims to support the development of the nation’s associations and their potential for hosting international conventions in Malaysia. Under the ADP, members are entitled to a wide range of strategic initiatives put together by the bureau. These efforts include association management seminars, conference planning seminars, bid support (financial and non-financial), and international engagements. Speaking at the launch, Zulkefli Hj Sharif, CEO of MyCEB said, “We are constantly reaching out to local associations and keeping them informed of the importance and benefits of bringing an international conference to Malaysia. ADP is one of our latest initiatives and the response has been overwhelming with representation from Malaysia’s national associations.”

SINGAPORE

Singapore has retained its position as the leading meeting city and country in the world, according to the Union of International Associations (UIA) 2012 Global Rankings. Named Top International Meeting Country for the second year running and Top International Meeting City for the sixth consecutive year, Singapore has once again reinforced its value proposition as a top choice international meeting destination. The UIA ranking is the latest in a list of accolades that include being named Asia’s Top Convention City for the 11th consecutive year by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Having hosted a record of 150 ICCA1 events in 2012, Singapore emerged as the only Asian city in the Top Ten Convention Cities in the world alongside Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona and London. m

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