As international flights touched down in Sydney on Feb. 21, it represented a turning point for Australia and its tourism industry, marking the country’s reopening of its borders to global travelers, who needed proof of vaccination to enter. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reported that every month the travel ban — with a strict cap on international arrivals — was in place, it cost businesses an estimated AU$3.6 billion.
“Today marks an incredible milestone for Australia’s business events industry,” said Robin Mack, executive general manager of commercial & business events Australia, at Tourism Australia. “After what has been a challenging two years for so many, today signals an important step in the road to recovery in welcoming back international business events delegates to our shores.”
Business events, Mack told Convene via email, “are a critical part of Australia’s visitor economy and play a key role in generating tourism activity, trade, investment, and employment opportunities. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, business events was a strong performing sector for Australia with 1.04 million arrivals, spending AU$4.5 billion, so we are focused on driving awareness that Australia is open for business to fast-track recovery.”
Three DMO leaders throughout Australia shared their thoughts about the return of business travel with Convene, courtesy of Business Events Tourism Australia. Here are some of their comments:
“From our conversations with associations and corporate clients, we know there’s huge appetite for people to reconnect and revive in-person experiences where possible, and the reopening of the international borders will add confidence to that demand. And, where it’s not entirely possible, we’re now equipped with a great understanding of what’s achievable via hybrid models of delivery, which is why we are part of the Hybrid City Alliance.” — Lyn Lewis-Smith, Chief Executive, BESydney
“While it’s not quite like flipping a switch, momentum is building. There is pent-up demand for in-person events, with companies eager to bring people back together and we are very much looking forward to welcoming close to 15,500 delegates to the international business events Melbourne will host this year. AIME 2022 [March 21-23] is the first international trade show to be held in Melbourne since reopening and will be a significant recovery platform for the business events industry in Victoria. It’s our opportunity to show the world that Melbourne and Australia are back.” — Julia Swanson, Chief Executive, Melbourne Convention Bureau
“Communications with international clients has been very positive since the announcement [about Australia reopening its borders], with immediate requests and discussions progressing to resume site inspections in the coming months as part of the international bidding process for existing clients, predominantly from the USA and European markets. The ability to showcase Brisbane to international decision makers, and for them to experience first-hand the city’s world-class facilities, international delegate appeal and meet with our Team Brisbane industry and partners to demonstrate the strengths of our industries here in Brisbane, is a valuable activity in the process of securing business events to the destination.” — Lorelle Chittick, General Manager Tourism, Business & Major Events, Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA)
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.