MEETINGS, INCENTIVES, CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS INDUSTRY
Matter of Public Importance
(Port Jackson—Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism) [3.50 p.m.]: I ask the House to note as a matter of public importance the economic importance of the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions [MICE] industry to New South Wales. This month there was a good indicator of the health of the State's MICE industry when Sydney was again named as the top convention city in the world for the year 2000 by the International Congress and Convention Association [ICCA] at the European Incentive and Business Travel Mart in Geneva. I am told that ICCA's preliminary results for next year indicate that Sydney is on track to achieve the same status in 2001, so let's keep our fingers crossed. The ICCA ratings are based simply on international conventions. The award is outstanding news and places Sydney ahead of London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam and Stockholm, and builds on the success that Sydney achieved by being named the top city in 1997. The ICCA had listed 73 international meetings to be held in Sydney in 2000 and 2001. That number is to be compared to the 54 meetings that are listed to be held in Melbourne.
The ICCA award shows that Sydney attracts more international convention delegates to Australia than any other city, and it means that Sydney holds the largest market share of Australia's tourism market: $1.78 billion out of $6 billion. The calendar of meetings and events to be released next month by the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau [SCVB] shows that 1,691 local and international events will take place in Sydney and regional New South Wales in 2000-2001. That is an absolutely fantastic result for New South Wales, especially as the SCVB is unavailable for two months during our biggest event of all, the 2000 Olympics. Those numbers include a large variety of events, trade shows, meetings, exhibitions, conventions and festivals, which are expected to attract about nine million participants to New South Wales. The high-yield nature of the business tourism industry has been highlighted by the 1999 Sydney convention delegate study, which was an analysis of the business tourism industry. That study is an import resource for the MICE industry.
The Government has always known that the meetings industry attracts high-yield businesses and that is why the Government has provided $2.3 million annually to the bureau since 1996-97. Before the study began in 1995 there was no way to gauge the growth potential, economic impact or future needs of this lucrative sector. The Sydney convention delegate study conducted in 1999, the fourth in the series, is an in-depth analysis of the disposition of international and domestic delegates to travel to Australia and Sydney and of their travel patterns. The study examined everything from delegate expenditure, length of stay, airline arrangements, and credit card use to pre-touring and post-touring options. I repeat that tourism is an economic portfolio and the conventions industry provides an excellent illustration of that claim.
In addition to the immediate economic benefits of delegate spending, the meetings surveyed also contribute strongly to trade and export development. The study confirms that business tourism is the highest yield sector of the tourism industry, contributing, as I said earlier, several million dollars to the New South Wales economy each year. A key finding is that almost 50 per cent of international delegates spent up to three additional days in other parts of the country during their visit. That is great news for the State, bearing in mind that the trend is for more international delegates head to regional New South Wales. The study found that during the past three years visits to regional New South Wales have increased by 14 per cent. The Blue Mountains have a significant drawing power with 7 per cent of delegates claiming a visit to the Blue Mountains as the main reason to extend their visit. The study showed that delegates are spending longer in Sydney and in Australia. On average, delegates spent 7.6 nights in Sydney, an increase from 6.9 nights in 1997, and 10.3 nights in Australia, an increase from 10 nights in 1997.
Similarly, domestic delegates are staying longer in Sydney, the average length of stay having increased from 4.2 nights in 1997 to 4.9 nights in 1999. Based on the key findings of this research anyone with an interest in increasing MICE business should consult the convention delegate study for their future development strategies. I am confident that Sydney's position as the world's top business tourism destination, coupled with the profile generated by the Sydney Olympic Games later this year, will provide further opportunities to keep the momentum going post-2000. As I told the House last year, the Carr Government is committed to ensuring regional New South Wales maximises its opportunities with the MICE industry. As part of that commitment the Government has developed a regional conferencing strategy, which the honourable member for Menai will expand upon in her contribution.
Mr J. H. Turner:
Menai is regional?
The honourable member for Menai will speak in the debate because she is interested in tourism. The Government's regional conferencing strategy is part of the overall regional strategy of Tourism New South Wales to boost tourism visitation and yield across the State. I launched that strategy in Bathurst in 1999 and I am pleased to advise that it is coming together very well, with a number of regional centres becoming highly enthused about its economic potential. Armidale has been very successful and has managed to attract two significant events through the strategy, which will bring a great deal of economic benefit to that area. Considerable business opportunities have been achieved, resulting in more than $1 million worth of business in the past 12 months or so. That is of benefit to regional New South Wales.
In 1998-99 and 1999-2000 an additional $150,000 was provided to market regional areas such as the Hunter Valley, the holiday coast, the Central Coast, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains as convention destinations. The Government realises the need to back up its international and Australian marketing efforts with the development of necessary infrastructure. The $57 million expansion of the Darling Harbour Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre is a serious commitment to the ongoing significance of the MICE sector. The new showground facilities have been a hit from the start, catering for major exhibitions, concerts, sporting events and the annual Royal Easter Show. The new Fox Studios are another jewel in Sydney's crown. Those facilities were a big success when Mercedes Australian Fashion Week was held there both last year and this year.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the world's biggest convention, is further testimony to the capabilities of the MICE market. With 10,000 athletes from 198 countries taking part the Games will boost the international profile of Sydney and New South Wales. Sydney is not only winning a great many conventions; it is winning the major and most important ones. For example, major events won by the SCVB to be held in Sydney in 2001 include the Australian Film Industry Awards/SPAA Conference/Show Biz Expo 2001, with a total of 6,000 delegates valued at almost $7 million, and the Eighth World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, with a total of 5,000 delegates and valued at almost $15 million. Other major conventions will be the Twelfth International Congress of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies, which has a total of 3,000 delegates and is valued at more than $4 million; and the Eighth World Congress of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine, which has 3,500 delegates and is valued at more than $13.5 million.
These important conventions are not all that Sydney has won. We have won an ever-growing swag of international awards. Our success in winning conventions is undoubtedly influencing the international view of Sydney, and vice versa. I shall advise honourable members of a few of the accolades that our city has gathered in recent times. This month two Sydney restaurants—the GPO and Salt—were listed among 60 international restaurants in Conde Nast Traveler's 2000 Hot Tables
. Four of Sydney's hotels—the Westin, the Kirkton, Pier One Park Royal and Rushcutters Bay Harbourside—were also on an international list of 36 in Conde Nast Traveler's 2000 Hot List
. In November last year Sydney was voted top foreign city in Conde Nast Traveler's 1999 readers choice awards. Sydney has won this award for a record five years in a row. The award polls more than 25,000 of Conde Nast Traveler's 2.5 million readers. Honourable members may be interested to know the category that brings us home each time. We do extremely well with such issues as the environment, ambience, and interest in the city, but what wins us the award is the fact that visitors regard Sydneysiders as extremely friendly. The people of Sydney win this award for Australia.
Last year Sydney also won Travel and Leisure magazine's world's best city award for the fourth consecutive year. This follows the listing of Ampersand and MG Garage last year. Also last year, Sydney was named best value city in the world by the Travel and Leisure magazine for the third consecutive year. Although we cannot rest on our laurels, the future for the MICE industry is looking very bright for Sydney and for regional New South Wales.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Kerr.
Pursuant to resolution business interrupted.