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Sydney aims to become among world’s top ten conference destination

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eTN Staff writer  Apr 24, 2008

The Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau has unveiled plans to put Sydney among the world’s top 10 conference destinations, capitalizing on a groundswell of support from industry and government.

Speaking in Frankfurt at the IMEX exhibition for the international meeting and incentive industry, SCVB managing director Jon Hutchison said Sydney’s “stars have come into alignment” during the past six months as business and political leaders united behind a common vision for the city’s events sector.

A succession of developments had created the right environment for a new push into key international markets, Mr. Hutchison said, backed by a “whole-of-city” approach to winning new business and developing a long-term blueprint for the city’s future.

“Never before has Sydney had such support for its events industry and never before has there been such opportunity, created by a new unity among our city’s leaders and a passion to capitalize on the remarkable brand we have created for Sydney,” Mr. Hutchison said.

“We intend to harness that new energy and take our International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) ranking into the world’s top 10 conference destinations in five years’ time, cementing our position as one of the world’s leading destinations for business events,” he said.

Central to Sydney’s future development was the launch of Events New South Wales late last year, a pioneering new model for bringing major events to Sydney. Created by the State Premier Morris Iemma and funded by the New South Wales Government, the new entity has been charged with bringing events of all types to Sydney, from public events and major sporting events to conferences and other business events.

“Events New South Wales is a government-funded corporation that capitalizes on the industry-led skills and proven event-winning formula of the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau,” Mr. Hutchison said. “It is a new model for creating government-industry cooperation and effective action, and one that we know has already caught the attention of other cities overseas.”

Backed by Events New South Wales, the SCVB is preparing to mount a major push into its key markets in Europe and North America, while at the same time increasing its successful operations in the emerging markets of Asia.

The bureau will expand its business development teams in both Europe and Asia, mount new sales missions in key markets, expand its head-office team in Sydney and launch new branding and marketing initiatives worldwide.

At the same time, the SCVB has championed a new forum to ensure widespread support for the business events sector among Sydney’s business leaders. The Leaders’ Business Events Forum will create a united front for the city’s events industry and draw on the combined expertise of key CEO’s and other leaders to address the over-arching issues facing Sydney.

Central to the city’s blueprint for the future is the development of new infrastructure and a commitment to increase capacity in response to demand, Mr Hutchison said.

“Sydney’s harbourside conference facilities are world class and continue to be a powerful asset in bringing business to our city, but we need to expand our capacity so that we can fuel future growth,” Mr. Hutchison said.

“In February the State Government released the findings of a major investigation into our future infrastructure needs and I’m pleased to say there is strong political impetus behind the expansion plans,” he said. “The study has produced achievable options for meeting our future needs and we look forward to the Government’s response in the very near future.”

Other issues being addressed include extending the city’s leadership in environmental initiatives. Following the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre’s world-first recognition as a Green Globe Benchmarked Convention Centre, the SCVB is now supporting the green initiatives of many of its other members including carbon offset schemes, green meeting products, energy reduction programs and waste reduction and recycling programs.

Sydney made world headlines in 2007 as the instigator of the Earth Hour movement which this year extended to dozens of other cities worldwide, while the City of Sydney is now working to implement the initiatives of its Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision for future development and the reduction of greenhouse emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

Mr. Hutchison said Australia’s booming economy, successful scientific and medical research sectors, strong business ties with Asia and heavy involvement in the powerhouse economy of China had all combined to create strong confidence in Sydney.

“This confidence is reflected in aviation trends, with airlines like Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates announcing significant increases in Sydney services and capacity, most notably when Singapore Airlines chose Sydney as the first destination in the world to welcome the Airbus A380 super-jumbo last year,” Mr Hutchison said.

“Further growth will come later this year when the Virgin group launches its latest international airline, V Australia, providing new competition on the key Sydney-Los Angeles route and allowing major cost reductions in travel from North America.”

Recently named “World’s Best Brand” for the second year running in the annual Anholt City Brands Index, Sydney will this year welcome more than 220,000 international visitors at 29 events secured with the help of the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year’s events have a combined economic value of A$278 million and include the Young Presidents’ Organization Global Leadership Congress, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Congress, the World Congress of the Transplantation Society and the 9th World Congress of Metropolis. The largest event is World Youth Day in July, expected to bring 200,000 Catholic pilgrims to Sydney and including a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Sydney aims to become among world’s top ten conference destination
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