The peak body that represents the events and exhibition industry in Australia has cautiously welcomed the NSW Government’s redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment precinct and renewal of Darling Harbour.
However, Joyce DiMascio, General Manager of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), said the industry remained concerned about the provision of a temporary facility for large exhibitions during the three-year construction period.
“This renewal will be a great boost for Sydney and Australia as we invest in infrastructure to keep us competitive in a global business events economy and we welcome the Government’s commitment,” she said.
“However, the interim period does pose some challenges. While the industry understands some disruption will be inevitable, the government is yet to find suitable alternative venues for the 65 large exhibitions and events that will be displaced over the three years.”
DiMascio said EEAA was working productively with Infrastructure NSW to find alternative facilities for smaller exhibitions and events but no venues have yet been found for major shows such as Sydney International Boat Show, Australian International Motor Show, Fine Food Australia, Reed Gift Fair and others requiring between 15,000sqm and 30,000sqm of exhibition space.
“We need the government to invest in suitable temporary facilities and make it as high a priority as the longer term plan,” DiMascio said. “You can’t shut down Sydney for three years. The companies that exhibit at these major expos are selling product. If you take away the trade and consumer events through which they sell you impact on business, employment, sales, the NSW economy and ultimately the Australian economy.”
While the government is proposing Moore Park as a possible solution, DiMascio said members of EEAA do not accept this as viable for the large events.
“You cannot hold the Boat Show at Moore Park,” she said. “We would like the government to explore expanded show ground at Barangaroo, White Bay and other sites as a matter of urgency.”
EEAA has also been in consultation with Infrastructure NSW in developing the brief for the redevelopment, specifically the industry’s requirement for an additional 40,000sqm of exhibition space which is needed to keep Australia internationally competitive.
“We look forward to seeing the final brief that will be issued to the two short-listed consortia and hope that the industry’s advice has been heeded,” said DiMascio.
“This is not about being competitive with Melbourne, Brisbane or the other Australian cities, we are operating in a global business economy and our facilities must be world standard, providing capacity for the industry to grow.”