A federal business events bid fund
Many will remember the result of the federal election in 2010 – the first hung parliament since 1940. The Australian Labor Party formed a minority government with the support of three independent MPS and one Australian Greens MP. What many won’t know is that with this election result went Australia’s opportunity to introduce a national business events bid fund. In opposition, the Coalition tourism policy in 2010 included a Business Events Bid and Boost Fund for key international conferences of $17.5m over four years. It is now time to bring this policy back to life. Australia’s convention bureaux do well in attracting international conventions despite our distance from the major markets of Europe and North America. In 2014, Australia hosted 260 international meetings, ranking it 13th in the world. However, Australia’s market share is declining in the face of both improved convention facilities and more aggressive bidding elsewhere in the world. The difference is the emergence and growth of government bid funds across the last decade. Once shrouded in secrecy, bid funds are now increasingly commonplace. As large conventions are extremely costly to stage, international associations are looking more and more to support from governments of potential host destinations. Despite some state/territory funding available, Australian convention bureaux are increasingly losing international opportunities to competitors with hefty government cheque books available, used to secure this highly competitive business. In total over 50 destinations have official bid funds including Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Malaysia, Kyoto and Seoul. New Zealand has already identified this issue in line with the direct and indirect benefits that hosting international conventions bring, having made available NZ$40 million over four years to attract these lucrative events. Further, Visitscotland estimates that their annual bid fund of £2 million, matched by city councils, has brought in £200 million worth of business since its inception in 2012. In Australia, we are used to this practice within major events, sports, culture and the arts. Why not international business events? As an industry, we should call on
If Australia wants to be able to compete more effectively with its AsiaPacific rivals, it will need its own national business fund’ events bid
both sides of politics to commit to a federal business events bid fund of at least $10 million per annum to reverse the decline and increase our market share. If Australia wants to be able to compete more effectively with its Asia-pacific rivals, it will need its own national business events bid fund. We should aspire to return to the top 10 of the International Convention & Congress Association rankings, not achieved since 2009, with an Australian city in the top 20. In doing so, we can also deliver a little bit of economic prosperity for Australia along the way!