Business events delivered a record $40.8 million to the Sunshine Coast region in 2015/16, attracting 27,384 delegates over 100,731 delegate days, while international business event visitors increased by 165 percent for the period compared to the year before.
Business Event Sunshine Coast (BESC) is expecting an even bigger year in 2017, which will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the naming of the Sunshine Coast. Events secured in 2016 included the Australian Smart Communities Summit, Australian Macadamia Industry Conference and Australian Event Awards, with the Australian Cruise Association and Australian Society of Travel Writers Conferences scheduled for 2017.
Tiffany Bower, Business Events Manager said event planners are looking for something different, wanting to go beyond the standard four-wall city basement conference venue.
"The Sunshine Coast figures tell a story with a marked increase in association conferences which often attract significant numbers of international visitors," said Ms Bower. "Associations are increasingly being drawn to regional destinations for a more natural experience, where they can take advantage of the region's landscape and outdoors environment, and include healthy activities and authentic experiences to stimulate delegates.
"With hotels in many cities now charging very high accommodation rates, we can offer better value for the conference dollar, meaning event organisers can design a more dynamic and attractive program.
"We have noted strong interest from New Zealand with the presence of our Visit Sunshine Coast representative in market along with positive results from our participation in shows such as PAICE and ConveneQ.
"And of course, our international figures can also be attributed to improved air access with Air New Zealand flights, Qantas connectivity via Sydney and the wider Qantas international network as well as the Virgin connections via their international network.
"Our focus over the coming 18 months is to capitalise on the success of the past year to attract more events to the region and grow the share of business from Asia and New Zealand. A range of new proposals is expected to build the region's conference and venues capacity over the next three years, which will coincide with the launch of the new Sunshine Coast Airport in 2020. The new airport, with an extended runway and new terminal will significantly increase the region's attractiveness for international and domestic conferences and events and will help build a strong case for an iconic convention/exhibition/events space in the future," added Ms Bower.
Following the development of a new website in 2016 with services tailored to event planners, BESC will launch their new 2017/18 planners guide at AIME showcasing latest accommodation, venues, offsite spaces, activities and signature incentive experiences.
BESC will be joined on their stand at AIME by Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, Kingfisher Bay Resort, Novotel Twin Waters Resort and The Events Centre, Caloundra.
Business Events Sunshine Coast (BESC) is the convention bureau for the Sunshine Coast. It sits as a dedicated unit within Visit Sunshine Coast, the regional tourism organisation for the Sunshine Coast. BESC is a not-for-profit, membership based organisation.
Queensland Business Events Survey – Sunshine Coast results*
*Queensland Treasury and Trade Queensland Business Events Survey [QBES 2015-16 compared to QBES 2014-15].
Photo caption: Corporate group learning beach horse riding at Rainbow Beach