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AustraliaISSUE 65 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 81espite Australia's reputation as a leisure oasis with an abundance of iconic landscapes, flora and fauna, the country remains the 13th largest global economy and is ranked 16th in the 2010-11 Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum. Business events (BE) are said to be one of the highest yielding sectors in Australia's visitor economy. In 2009, the country's BE delegate expenditure was worth AU$7.9bn (US$8.2bn) annually and by 2020, it Below: Melbourne's coastline offers plenty of ideas for entertaining delegatesAustralia escaped the worst of the global financial crisis and its economy has remained buoyantGroup director of convention centres for AeG oGden, Geoff donAGhyis expected to contribute up to $16bn. In May 2011, convention bureau BE Australia (BEA) reported a 11 per cent year-on-year rise of convention visitor arrivals to 173,000, with a particularly strong increase from the Asia-Pacific region and key markets such as India, Korea, China and Japan. "Brand Australia is strong and will continue to attract solid business from the Asia-Pacific, where growing markets are creating more opportunities," said Event Director of the 20th Australasian meetings and incentive tradeshow, AIME 2012, Sally de Swart. She said there has been "encouraging growth from the US, the UK, Germany and Canada as the economic situation improves".The Group Director of Convention Centres for AEG Ogden and VP of International Association of Congress Centres, Geoff Donaghy said: "Australia escaped the worst of the impacts of the global financial crisis (GFC) and its economy has remained buoyant. This meant corporate business, which was the D

Australia82 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 65worst affected is now returning, albeit not yet to pre-GFC levels. Association business is positive and the postponing of some destination decisions, which was the main GFC impact, has mostly finished."He argued the strengthening of the Australian dollar and the fact the country is a long-haul destination is not conducive to international business. "This also means outbound demand, particularly to Asia, is growing steadily," he added. Despite this, Australia rose five places in the 2010 International Congress and Convention Association rankings to 11th place with 239 qualifying meetings. BEA attributes this rise on improved access, new multimillion dollar meetings infrastructure and greater involvement from the country's academics and business leaders. It said this multi-pronged approach has been to add value for international associations and their members."Australia is a pioneer in terms of its ambassador programmes," said CEO of Fast Future Research and Programme Director of the Convention 2020 study on the future of the meetings industry, Rohit Talwar. "It is also, in my opinion, among the top three countries in terms of thought leadership." Manager of the Australia Associations Project at Tourism Australia, Julie Sheather, said Australia's appetite for hosting international associations has never been greater: "We have put together a compelling proposition for any association hoping to run an event in Australia by adding greater air access, new facilities and whole-of-country support." There are new developments completed or underway in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Adelaide's convention and exhibition centres. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre opened in 2009 and a planned expansion of Sydney's Darling Harbour complex and a new facility in the country's capital city, Canberra, are among others. In 2010, the Government announced the '2020 Tourism Industry Potential' campaign, which Head of BEA, Penny Lion, said was a rallying industry call to increase tourism's contribution to the GDP from 2.6 to three per cent by 2020.She said to achieve this target, the Government is encouraging investment in the necessary infrastructure. "Evidence of new investments are starting to take shape all over Australia including Melbourne's recent opening of Australia's largest hotel, the Crown Metropol and the opening of Medina hotel on Darwin's waterfront. "In addition, private investment to aviation services means capacity and demand will continue to rise from key international markets."Talwar said the global meetings industry is becoming increasingly aware of the strength of the sector Proposed tourism industry's contribution to GDP by 20202020 Tourism indusTry poTenTial campaign3%Above: Unique delegate transport, a hot balloon over Victoria's wine country, below: Cross the red centre on The Ghan