Adelaide is slowly putting itself on the global conferences map, with its flagship convention centre being one of the only sites in Australia to operate seamlessly through heavy internal and external construction activity. It’s an achievement the Adelaide Convention Centre’s team is proud of. The East Building, the second stage in the Centre’s $400 million expansion, will be completed by July, in time for Adelaide’s biggest ever and one of the world’s most-attended conferences. The International Astronautical Congress in September is tipped to attract more than 3000 national and international delegates. Adelaide can now pitch for more large-scale events thanks to the East Building’s multipurpose plenary capacity of up to 3500 seats and the hi-tech advantages it offers alongside its existing two buildings.
The hi-tech venue will be home to one of the world’s largest rotating seating drums, which will be used to quickly reconfigure conference and event spaces.
ACC chief executive Alec Gilbert says Adelaide has become Australia’s convention city. “We built Australia’s first purpose-built convention centre in 1987 and we have set the bar higher ever since,” he says. “With the planned new cafe court and pub overlooking the Riverbank precinct, I am convinced it will become the new face of Adelaide, an exciting place for people to meet.”
The “dynamic new centre” is a key reason why South Australia has continued to move towards the top of the competitive global business tourism industry, says SA Tourism Minister Leon Bignell. “The Riverbank precinct is constantly changing and this is another exciting step in that process. From the world’s best stadium, Adelaide Oval, to our stunning footbridge and the Convention Centre, it’s no wonder our visitor economy is at a record high of $5.95 billion.”
More than 300 events and conferences, some attracting up to 1000 delegates, are scheduled for this year. The South Australian Medical Health Research Institute, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, together with the state’s universities along the Riverbank precinct, have also helped Adelaide become a destination of choice for business events. In the past two years, over 45 events and conventions, with over 50,650 delegates, have generated an estimated economic impact of almost $240 million. “Convention delegates spend about $632 a day, money which flows into our restaurants, taxis, retail outlets and other small business operators,” Mr Bignell says.
There is more room to fill Adelaide’s calendar with events of all sizes and a focus on winter, says Damien Kitto, chief executive at the Adelaide Convention Bureau, the peak body responsible for attracting conventions and associated exhibitions as well as incentivising travel business to South Australia. “Business events are vital, for instance, in providing our hotels with the majority of their room nights and more demand needs to be driven to complement supply,” Mr Kitto says. “Adelaide currently has one of the lowest hotel room rates across the capital cities of Australia due to a lack of consistent demand to drive it higher. With a higher rate and increased demand comes more sustainable investment in Adelaide hotels and other businesses associated with conferences and business tourism.”
The support of the State Government’s $10 million Convention bid has been a positive factor toward many of the bids won in recent times, he says. The focus is on attracting larger international events, especially from Southeast Asia and China. He also says competition was fierce not just locally but across Asia.
words Valerina Changarathil
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Events & Attendances
Australasian Sexual Health Conference and Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference: 1000
AusRAIL 2016: 1500
The Royal Australian & NZ College of Psychiatrists National Conference: 1000
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress: 1400
Australian Conference on Lutheran Education: 1000
68th International Astronautical Congress: 3500
The 14th Australian Palliative Care Conference: 1000
Australian Orthopaedic Association 77th Annual Scientific Meeting: 1300
Mitre 10 National Conference and Expo: 1000
Australian Tourism Exchange: 2100
APPEA Oil and Gas Conference & Exhibition: 2000
Australian College of Operating Room Nurses National Conference: 1000
Australian Society of Anaesthetists National Scientific Congress: 1200
International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials: 1000
ASFA National Conference and Superannuation Expo: 1700
RANZCO 50th Scientific Congress: 2000