The largest organiser of exhibitions at Darling Harbour, Diversified, has welcomed the NSW Government’s AUD$1 billion redevelopment plans but has warned that six major shows could be forced out of Sydney if suitable temporary space could not be found by mid-2012.
Matt Pearce, Managing Director of Diversified Exhibitions, said the Government’s commitment to spend AUD$1 billion to redevelop Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct and Darling Harbour would secure the industry’s long term future. However the closure of Darling Harbour for three years from the end of 2013, posed serious problems for large events.
“We applaud the Government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure that will allow Sydney to attract an even greater share of the exhibition and events business,” he said.
“Our immediate concern is the lack of clarity around alternative venues for large exhibitions that require more than 10,000 metres of exhibition space.”
Diversified Exhibitions is the biggest user of the Darling Harbour exhibition space holding 10 major events each year.
Pearce said six of these events – Fine Food Australia, Fitness and Health Expo, Grand Designs Live, Good Food and Wine Show, DesignEx and DesignBuild – cannot be accommodated in the Government’s proposed alternative venue at Moore Park.
He said major exhibitions required 18 months to two years of forward planning, meaning the 2014 calendar of events needed to be finalised by mid-year.
“If we don’t have a suitable high quality space confirmed by the middle of the year we will have to make decisions about where we go,” said Pearce. “If we have to move to Melbourne or Brisbane we will do so but this would be a huge loss to Sydney.”
“We are working closely with Infrastructure NSW on this issue but we need the Government to act with urgency to find suitable temporary venues.”
Pearce said there were sites in Sydney, such as Barangaroo and White Bay, which could be explored to assess their viability as interim venues, fitted out with high quality temporary structures.
He said exhibitions and events offered businesses an unparalleled opportunity for face to face marketing to both trade and consumer groups.
“This year’s Good Food and Wine Show, for instance, attracted 30,000 people who spent on average $190 each,” he said. “The benefits, however, go beyond the individual exhibitors, flowing into the wider economy.”
“We would prefer to keep these major events in Sydney but it is difficult to make any firm decisions until we know where the venue will be how much space there is and the configuration.”