It’s an industry worth an estimated $700 million a year to Queensland. We’re talking about the business events sector – a vital component of the local economy. With the 23rd Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show about to drop anchor on our shores, Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business Jan Jarratt talks up the importance of the sector and why the State Government continues to support it.

IN spite of the many difficulties facing our tourism industry, some sectors are actually growing. The strong Australian dollar, Global Financial Crisis and recent weather events may be presenting challenges to the leisure tourism sector, but events tourism is going from strength to strength.

The business events industry is worth more than $700 million to the state economy each year and we are investing strongly to expand the potential of this market, motivated not only by prestige and associated media exposure of being able to stage some of the best events in Australia – but also motivated by the bottom line.

Business delegates have a strong economic impact in the regions they visit spending, on average more than five times that of leisure tourists – or roughly $554 per day compared with $94 per day.

Queensland has the most diverse and comprehensive portfolio of convention centres in Australia, with bureaux in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Whitsunday, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane. Queensland’s facilities, our lifestyle and weather make the sunshine state the perfect place to combine business with fun.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi and the summer floods, the Bligh Government invested an extra $1 million to help our convention centres attract business events.

Each of the seven bureaux was provided $100,000 to bolster their individual marketing strategies and a $300,000 national bid fund was established to secure vital business events to Queensland.

Investing in events tourism will ensure economic benefits are delivered across all our regions and help buoy the industry during the short-term contraction pains being felt in the leisure market. The need to attract and retain major events in Queensland has never been more important and the Gold Coast is very much at the forefront as an events hub.

The economic benefit of events tourism to the Gold Coast is enormous. For example, Magic Millions injects around $25 million into the Gold Coast region, the Aussies Surf Life Saving Competition delivered a $15 million economic boost and the Gold Coast Marathon returns roughly $13 million each year. Events like these attract visitors from intrastate, interstate and abroad, ensuring the international spotlight shines on the Gold Coast.

Such exposure has helped to boost the popularity of other major events, such as the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, which is now the leading marine event in the Asia-Pacific region attracting around 400 exhibitors each year and an average of 45,000 visitors.

The boat show is not only a coup for tourism, but is also a showcase of world-leading, innovative marine manufacturers that we are fortunate to have in this part of the world – many of whom are tackling challenges head on and exporting to a number of international markets.

Then there’s the winning bid for the HSBC Rugby Sevens competition, to be held at Skilled Park, sending a message that the Gold Coast is event ready in every way – which will be critical as the Premier prepares to go into bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the next fortnight.

The Gold Coast’s natural beauty, world-class infrastructure and proven track record as an events hub all position the region as a strong contender to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which would be a major economic and social coup for the Coast.

A feasibility study conducted by the Queensland Government indicates the economic benefits of the 2018 Commonwealth Games could be upwards of $1.9 billion, with the potential of creating up to 30,000 full time jobs – an enormous economic boon considering the Gold Coast’s tourism industry presently accounts for a total of 28,500 jobs.

The flow-on benefits of major events provide returns to almost all sectors of our economy; especially the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. The success of major events also instil a sense of pride, achievement and vibrancy in our communities and it is with this in mind that the Bligh Government will continue to advocate and invest in major events for Queensland.

The Bligh Government’s investment in major Queensland events has ensured that after the bustling sports crowds leave town and the lights go down on an international music act, our state’s economy comes out on top.

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