Brisbane has been chosen as the destination city to host a collection of world leaders for the G20 Summit in 2014, an announcement that has sparked debate from the New South Wales Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard, who said Sydney has “everything that should have been available to sell Australia to the world”.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called Brisbane’s bid as a stand out, adding that it “gives a great opportunity to say to the world that we are a nation of many world-class cities; Brisbane is one of them”.
However the NSW Minister Brad Hazzard has challenged that the Prime Minister chose Brisbane “simply to use the leaders of the world as political pawns in her game to try and win back the votes across Queensland”.
About 7000 people including a large number of world leaders are expected to attend the summit.
The decision to host the G20 Summit in Brisbane highlights the dilemma faced by the exhibition and event industry which is still waiting for a government decision on interim facilities while new conference and exhibition facilities are built at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Prime Minister Gillard indicated the closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre during the time period and concerns about the restrictions at Sydney Airport as important factors in the decision.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman also defended the choice, saying that “Queensland won fair and square due to our world-class facilities including the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, transport options, airport and accommodation”.
The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), has congratulated Brisbane on its selection to host this important meeting of world leaders.
“We are delighted to see Brisbane having the opportunity to showcase to the world the quality of its new and expanded facilities and expertise in hosting international events,” said EEAA General Manager Joyce DiMascio.
DiMascio also agreed that the closure of the Darling Harbour facility for three years from the end of 2013 was already having an impact on Sydney’s events.
“At the same time we are concerned that several months after the announcement of the AUD$1 billion redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment precinct we still have no solution for the major events that will be displaced during the construction period,” she said.
“We have been working constructively with Infrastructure NSW to find alternate venues but business is already being impacted for organisers who must plan and book exhibitions and events beyond December 2013.
“The G20 Summit decision is a worrying foretaste of the future if suitable alternate venues are not found soon.”
DiMascio said that it was evident from the Federal Government’s decision to take the G20 to Brisbane that the quality of the venue, together with attributes of the host city, had a significant bearing on conference, exhibition and event business.
EEAA President Matthew Pearce, one of the largest organisers of events at Darling Harbour, said time was now a critical factor in the search for interim event facilities.
“While Sydney will have a sparkling new facility after 2016 it is clear from the G20 decision that a city without a Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment facility is at great disadvantage both nationally and on the global stage,” he said.
“We will be enduring significant pain, our sincere hope is that we come out of the period of unprecedented disruption with facilities that provide enough capacity to grow over the next 20 to 30 years.”
“At present we still have no certainty about interim venues for major events which has implications not only for our industry but the wider visitor economy.”
Meanwhile, the accommodation industry will receive significant benefits from Brisbane hosting the G20 conference in 2014, according to the Accommodation Association of Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Munro.
He says an event such as this has the potential to bring about many positive changes for the accommodation market in the Queensland capital.
“The status and number of international visitors to Australia for the G20 is likely to stimulate investment in both the number of tourism accommodation rooms in Brisbane, as well as existing rooms,” Munro says.
“There will be numerous other benefits for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.
“The G20 will create significant worldwide media attention for Brisbane, as well as regional parts of Queensland.
“Support meetings held alongside the G20 will fill accommodation rooms and conference rooms.
“The event will also enhance Brisbane and Queensland’s reputation and ability to host major international events.
“The G20 is another example of a business tourism event which will generate significant returns for the accommodation industry,” he says.
Tourism Accommodation Australia’s Managing Director Rodger Powell agrees, saying hosting “world leaders and economic forums is great for Australia and provides good business for local hotels”.
“Australia has outstanding credentials as a host of major events,” he told HM. “Recent successes such as the Rugby World Cup, CHOGM in Perth, the Sydney Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and APEC in Sydney have given the rest of the world the confidence in Australia from a security and organisational perspective. But most of all it seems world leaders just like coming here.
“We have three cities that consistently rank among the top convention cities. We are a great meetings and events country. It’s great that Brisbane was selected rather than Singapore or Hong Kong,” Powell said.