. Sydney and Gold Coast back in business | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Sydney and Gold Coast back in business

Uptick in live event bookings at ICC Sydney and Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre underscore demand.

Two confirmed events in February 2021 at ICC Sydney will clock an economic impact in excess of US$22 million, say event organisers.
Two confirmed events in February 2021 at ICC Sydney will clock an economic impact in excess of US$22 million, say event organisers. Photo Credit:ICC Sydney, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

Two of Australia's cities have reason to celebrate, following the return of exhibitions at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), and thousands of delegates attending events at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) in October.

Currently, ICC Sydney is open and hosting a range of in-person, virtual and hybrid events such as the upcoming Convening Asia Pacific – The Global Recovery Forum on 10 November. Capacity limits on exhibition have also been removed (as of 2 November), although reopening is subject to one person per four sqm of space, according to advice from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Health.

Sydney's exhibitions sector is a vital one, where in a typical year, delegate expenditure contributes AU$340 million (US$247 million) to the local economy.

At ICC Sydney, this market "accounts for approximately one quarter of our turnover, which in a typical year can be up to 70 events, so this update is a significant step forward for the business events industry following the impact of COVID-19," said ICC Sydney CEO, Geoff Donaghy.

This restart will definitely impact suppliers up and down the business events supply chain, since "attracting investment through trade events and exhibitions keeps people in jobs and is a key driver to our economic recovery," said Gabriel Metcalf, CEO, Committee for Sydney.

Already, two exhibitions have been confirmed — the Reed Gift Fairs and Life Instyle — both happening in February 2021, over four days. The expected economic impact? In excess of AU$30 million, say event organisers.

"Trade events and exhibitions have always been places where entire industries come together in one place to celebrate what they do, build connections and, of course, trade. The flow-on benefits of this are substantial and we hope this update will be the catalyst for the recovery of other industries," said Reed Exhibitions managing director, Brian Thomas.

Since receiving approval to operate in June, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre has been hosting regular events, with more confirmed for the final two months of 2020.
Since receiving approval to operate in June, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre has been hosting regular events, with more confirmed for the final two months of 2020.

Gold Coast, Queensland is also reporting positive demand — and confidence — in face-to-face meetings.

Last month, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) welcomed thousands of delegates attending conferences, business meetings, fundraisers, school graduations and formals — just four months after the venue received approval to operate under its site-specific Covid Safe Plan in June.

From 13-16 October, the School Business Managers’ Association, Queensland (SBMAQ) state conference recorded more than 600 in attendance, who took part in plenary sessions, masterclasses, an exhibition, daily themed dinners and even a gala awards event. This was quickly followed by the Local Government Association Queensland Conference from 19-21 October, which welcomed more than 500 delegates and 85 exhibitors.

All events were held under the scrutiny of GCCEC's Covid-safe plan, which covers conditions of entry, record keeping, social distancing, deliveries, food service, team wellbeing and event-specific requirements.

What participants don't know is that hosting events right now requires "a lot of additional work" from the venue. According to GCCEC general manger, Adrienne Readings, this includes extra deep cleaning, COVID marshalling, labour-intensive food preparation and service, monitoring traffic, flow and messaging, and record keeping.

Still, it's all worth it.

“The response to these events has been overwhelmingly positive from all stakeholders and it’s really encouraging to see people back meeting and networking at the centre,” said Readings.

For the final two months of 2020, GCCEC has already confirmed several graduations, formals, networking breakfasts, two more conferences and Christmas events.