Optimism abounds for Australia’s business events sector once again, as the reopening of borders and lifting of pandemic restrictions have rekindled interest in Down Under as an incentive and association destination.
For Robin Mack, who's nearly a year into his role as Tourism Australia’s executive general manager of commercial and Business Events Australia, growing the destination’s international competitiveness and attracting more business events is now top priority for the specialised unit as the Land Down reopens to the world.
The latest and second phase of the “There’s Nothing Like Australia” international brand campaign, which was launched in March 2022, forms part of a broader recovery strategy to drive demand for Australia as a business event destination in major global markets.
The integrated campaign, through a new suite of film assets, places the spotlight on the country’s people and their personality to showcase Australia.
“We believe our point of difference is around the Australian people and the lifestyle. We have such a unique destination with vast and beautiful landscapes, and we’re such a welcoming nation, so we try to get that tone of voice and the humour through the campaign,” said Mack, speaking to M&C Asia during the recent IMEX in Frankfurt.
For the Asian market, the ease of access and direct flights with Australia remain strong drawcard, not to mention the overall appeal of the country as “a bucketlist destination”, Mack stated.
These factors, together with Tourism Australia’s Business Events Bid Fund programme, have led to positive comeback of the Asian market. Mack shared: “We have a lot of bids in play across Asia at the moment. Incentives across the whole of Asia are coming back, China included, for 2023.”
Despite the challenging business environment in the past two years, the Business Events Bid Fund Program, which provides funding for event costs in Australia, was instrumental in supporting incentive and association wins for the destination during the pandemic.
According to Mack, Australia has secured 39 new bids worth AU$262 million (US$184 million) since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to March 2022, when the borders just reopened. In total, the Bid Fund Programme had 62 event wins worth AU$505 million since its launch.
What’s new in the land Down Under
There had been a flurry of changes and additions in Australia even when the borders were closed, said Mack. “We actually had unprecedented infrastructure growth in the last two years. We've had 100 new or renovated hotels and 12,000 beds around the country.”
Notable hotel openings include Crown Towers Sydney in the Barangaroo precinct near the Darling Harbour, the tallest building in the CBD; Marriott and W in Melbourne; The Tasman in Hobart; Ritz-Carlton in Perth, Sofitel in Adelaide, Dorsett in Gold Coast.
In the exhibition venue space, the upgraded Cairns Convention Centre has added 10,500 square metres of space, including a sky terrace boasting a 500-seat rooftop banquet space, while the ICC Sydney has launched a Media Studio to offer broadcast recording services, live streaming and digital event solutions.
On the sustainability front, Tourism Australia partnered with the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia to develop a sustainability framework for the business events sector, including the launch of an event carbon calculator which allows event planners to measure the impact of their events and make them carbon neutral.
Looking ahead, Mack sees Australia's lead in sustainability in the region becoming a key consideration for many planners as awareness of sustainability grows.
“Sustainability is important so planners can bring that to life as part of the incentive. People want to immerse in a destination as well as to find a purpose to their travel, so engaging with communities and giving back and everything around that can be really tailored in Australia,” he concluded.