Asia rebound bodes well

ASIA, one of WA’s biggest Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions markets, is coming back online with a vengeance.

Some industry insiders predict a boom period in the Asian convention market in the next five years and Perth is ideally positioned to secure most of the business.

With the dedicated convention and exhibition centre due for completion by 2003, WA should have the facilities to meet the demand.

During the Asian financial crisis conventions and, in particular, the lucrative incentive travellers from that market fell away.

The Perth Convention Bureau was even forced to shut its very successful Singapore office.

However, in the past 12 months there has been a 27 per cent growth in incentive business coming to WA from Asia.

Because these countries do not have Fringe Benefit Tax, incentive travel is a reward for high-performing staff.

Perth Convention Bureau managing director Owen Cook said incentive travel to Perth from Asia was nearly at the level of 1996.

However, the bureau will not re-establish its office in Singapore or set one up in any other Asian country either.

“I don’t think an office in Asia would be cost effective,” Mr Cook said.

The bureau’s Singapore office was lucrative because it was the only one from Australia selling its city as a conventions destination.

Mr Cook said it was more cost effective to fly staff into Asia to sell Perth as a conventions destination.

“The Singapore office was an expensive exercise to set it up and an expensive exercise to shut it down,” Mr Cook said.

“It was a good experience and we got very good results from there. We would have continued but for the Asian downturn.

“That market is exposed to the vagaries of the US market. If they sneeze we catch a cold.”

Mr Cook said the bureau was concentrating on Thailand and Malaysia.

“I believe the Singaporean market is a mature, though fruitful one. We’re just harvesting the benefits from there,” he said.

“Malaysia is showing interesting growth.

“You know whenever you do business in those countries you’ll get a very quick turnaround.

“A trip to Perth for them is like a trip to Sydney for us. It’s not seen as going overseas in their minds.”

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