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Mice Net : February 2009
sydney & surrounds big bids, more business story by Brad Foster A prediction of softer visitor numbers for 2009 has everybody talking business tourism. And sydney is in the hot seat. D espite all the pre-launch hype, Baz Luhrmann’s epic Australia is financially a bummer. While it broke box office records in Australia, internationally it has under-performed, raising questions about whether Tourism Australia’s big marketing spend on the back of the film was money well spent. Couple that with the financial downturn in the United States and much of the rest of the world, and things are looking grim for the tourism sector generally. Which is why the business events sector has hit the headlines, and why Sydney will weather the financial storm better than most. As CEO of Business Events Sydney (formerly the Sydney Convention & Visitors Bureau), Jon Hutchison, explained recently, on the one hand Sydney and the bureau celebrated the end of 2008 marked by great successes. “During the last financial year we have secured $145 million worth of new events, and are on track to achieve a 50 per cent increase in bid wins by 2011. We are enjoying unprecedented support, and have entered a ‘new era’ for marketing Sydney, by combining industry and government in a united approach for the first time,” he explains. “On the other hand, Sydney - like the rest of the world - is beginning to feel the full impact of the global financial crisis. We believe that the business events industry remains well placed to weather this crisis, but it has become more important than ever that we face these challenges with carefully honed strategies. “Our solid success-rate at winning bids has secured business events for Sydney for the future, and our city remains attractive for international congresses. However, we will need to work extra hard to attract delegates and new business.” Indeed, while tourism bodies scratch their heads in search of new visitors, Sydney is gearing up for ongoing and hopefully increased business tourist arrivals. Long-term industry practitioner and managing director of ICMS Australasia, Bryan Holliday, says in this edition (see page 66) that those companies which continue their face-to-face meeting agendas – despite the tough business climate - will be best equipped to cope with external factors, due to the very nature of them dealing with such issues in an open environment. In another recent remark, Mr Holliday said meetings “are the ABOVE: Business Tourism, Sydney Harbour. Photo courtesy of Tourism New South Wales. mice.net 109