IN the globalised world of business tourism, conferences and events, the Gold Coast remains the destination to beat, with $48m secured in corporate events last year.

A HIGH Australian dollar and tougher international competition may present challenges to the city’s tourism industry, but the Gold Coast still secured more than $48 million in corporate events last year.

Around 228,000 guests will experience the region’s offerings between 2011 and 2014, courtesy of 32 international and 36 interstate major events.

The Gold Coast Convention Bureau is the Gold Coast Tourism offshoot responsible for attracting and securing the big business events.

Business events director Jacqui Taylor admits the market has its challenges, but diversity and lower costs means the region will always remain competitive.

“The Gold Coast has an unprecedented range of activities to do and still has the advantage of not being a ‘major city’,”says Taylor.

“Most delegates work and live in large cities, so the Gold Coast is very unique in that it provides enough infrastructure and diverse excitement while not being a seen as a city destination.

“It’s also more cost effective than Brisbane and the southern capitals. When large conventions are working out how much they want to spend, the bottom line counts. And when it comes down to the bottom line, the Gold Coast is very highly desired.”

One example of the Gold Coast’s international pulling power saw Thailand’s Nu Skin Southeast Asia splash $2.5 million on its 25th anniversary event in November.

During the trip more than 1000 delegates visited Dreamworld, Harbour Town Shopping Centre, Seaworld and QDeck’s observation tower.

While international business events bring in the top dollars, the interstate conference market is the lifeblood of the Gold Coast business tourism industry.

But Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) general manager Adrienne Readings has some concerns.

“National conferences are still the biggest market, but this (financial) year hasn’t been brilliant,” says Readings.

“The Gold Coast is still seen as great value for money, but there’s been a lack of confidence in the industry for some time.”

The GCCEC is pushing to recapture the domestic events market with the launch of its new ‘love what we do’ marketing campaign.

Readings is confident that innovative promotional techniques and a return to economic certainty will see the national market boom once again.

“These ads move away from the conventional brand building standard which typically shows the venue advertised and lists all its great assets and achievements,” she says.

“(It) is something emotive, something a little bit quirky and something that we think people can really connect to.

“GCCEC is optimistic about the positive results that this campaign is expected to generate for the Centre within our domestic and international markets.”

Taylor is similarly confident of the Gold Coast’s competitiveness on a national scale, but highlights that the toughest competition comes from other areas of the Sunshine State.

“Many of the national conventions tour around Australia, that is each year they go to a different state,” she says.

“If an event is held in New South Wales or Victoria, Sydney and Melbourne are almost guaranteed of securing it. The challenge for the Gold Coast is that when a large business event comes to Queensland, the options also include Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and the Whitsundays.

“So if Queensland is up for an event once every four years, the Gold Coast could potentially secure that event once in a decade.”

The consensus however is that the Gold Coast still has the edge on other Queensland tourist destinations.

With the assistance of the big players like the GCCEC, the Gold Coast Convention Bureau must continue marketing its strengths and offerings to ensure the Coast preserves its mantle on top of the podium. 

Get your copy of Gold Coast Business News February edition to receive the free 2011 Annual Conference and Events Guide. We take a look at some of the venues that allow Gold Coast Tourism to proclaim ‘we’re the best’.

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