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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

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