A gaping $1 million black hole has emerged in the Gold Coast conference and events market following the relocation of the Carbon Market Expo to Melbourne.
Lack of financial support from the Queensland Government is believed to have led to one of the state’s premier international exhibitions shifting to the southern capital.
The Carbon Market Expo was successful in both delegate numbers and economic contribution in its inaugural 2008 and 2009 events.
Event director Michael Whitehead, says the lack of funding wasn’t the only factor in the move, though he concedes the Victorian Government’s offer had been ‘substantially increased’.
Victoria was able to pledge $100,000 of funding for the Melbourne event, while Queensland contributed $50,000 in 2008 and just $28,000 last year.
“Last year the Queensland State Government weren’t able to support the event to the same extent as in ’08 due to budget reasons, while the Victorian government were offering to support to event substantially,” says Whitehead.
“There was also a fair amount of enthusiasm from the expo sponsors to move to either Sydney or Melbourne as a part of the event’s growth strategy. As I had the Victorian Government ready to sign I couldn’t muck around.”
Whitehead concedes last year’s expo was down to 750 in delegates from 1150 in 2008, though expects numbers to increase in line with improved economic factors.
“There are two major drivers in the Carbon Market Expo being successful – firstly the economy being good and secondly the amount of focus on carbon emissions and policy change,” he says.
“Last year we had a double whammy of the GFC and the Federal Government retracting its ETS. We aren’t in too bad a position though as delegate numbers across the entire conferencing and events sector were reported at being 23 per cent down last year and are expected to pick up again.”
Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) major projects director Darren Scott, says council had invested $50,000 per year into developing the Carbon Market Expo.
“Delegate spend alone was more than $1 million so from the council’s perspective it was a very good investment for the economic injection it produced,” says Scott.
“Discussions with Michael Whitehead indicated there was an issue with the funding from the state. Council tries to work in partnership with the State Government but they have their budget priorities and unfortunately we didn’t agree in this case.”
Whitehead says the Expo is better suited to the Gold Coast and indicated he would like to bring it back to its city of origin.
“People involved in the expo are definitely interested in bringing it back to the Gold Coast,” he says.
“For an expo of this size, where the exhibitors are numbering in the hundreds not thousands, there is no better venue in Australia than the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“It’s not just about bringing people here for the event, but the expo was strongly supported by those in the green tech sector and contributes to the focus on environment-related businesses and employment on the Coast.”
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