Adelaide, South Australia has just held its largest ever business event, the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).
4470 delegates from 71 nations plus visits by 700 school children and several thousand members of the public (who attended the public exhibition day), made the 2017 congress one of the biggest in IAC history. (Mexico in 2016 had 5500 delegates). Of major significance in these numbers is that the distance to Australia from the northern hemisphere was not seen as a negative by industry delegates, Governments, space agencies, organisations or corporations.
IAC was the first major event to be held in the newly expanded Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC). Australia's first purpose-built convention centre, the ACC was reborn as the country's newest, most versatile and technologically advanced meetings venue in August following the completion of a A$397m redevelopment. The IAC comprised a detailed program including eight plenary sessions, three highlight lectures, two breaking news, 200 technical sessions and a custom exhibition – all of which utilised every square metre of the centre's available 20,000 sq/m. The venue's highly flexible floor plan was put to the test with exemplary results and commendation by organisers and delegates.
Adelaide delivered! With high praise from all involved, including the International Astronautical Federation itself, the 'Team Adelaide' approach for which the destination is renowned delivered a world-class event. Michael Davis, chair Space Industry Association of Australia who worked with the Adelaide Convention Bureau to bring the event to Adelaide acknowledged "that the event has been universally judged as one of the most successful ever". This success was due in no small part through to the efforts of PCO All Occasions Group – an Adelaide business who won the role following a world-wide tender process.
Being a smaller city of around 1.3m people, Adelaide became totally immersed in this highly prestigious event. The opening day announcement by Sen. Simon Birmingham that the government would commit to developing Australia's own space agency through to Elon Musk's presentation, 'Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species', drew massive crowds and generated much local excitement as well as extensive national and international media coverage. Beyond the official program at the Convention Centre, IAC associated exhibitions at the State Library and Museum were exceptionally well attended with traffic up by 50 percent on the week prior. The closing gala dinner at the Adelaide Oval's Magarey Room was a sell-out, providing spectacular views across the river to the ACC and the city's iconic Riverbank precinct, while local businesses welcomed delegates with open arms during official sightseeing tours throughout the week.