Big spenders hit town

THE push to promote Perth as a conference destination has, according to a recent survey by the Perth Convention Bureau, definitely paid off.

Results from the second Western Australia Delegate Expenditure Survey undertaken last year showed that international and national delegates attending conferences in Perth have increased their spending by an average of 65 per cent in the period between 1994 and 2000.

International convention delegates spent less time in the State, down from 9.6 days to nine days, but they upped their spending by 56 per cent from $2554 per stay in 1994 to $3995 last year (excluding pre-paid international air fares).

The survey found the opposite trend among national guests with stays increasing from 6.1 days in 1994 to 8.1 days in 2000. The trend in spending was good on both the international and national market with national guests also upping their daily expenditure over $100 per day, from $206 per day in 1994 to $316 per day last year.

On average, interstate visitors have increased their overall spending a marked 75 per cent since the original survey.

According to the survey, more international and national delegates are participating in pre and post-conference touring.

In the case of national delegates, 57 per cent went on pre and post-tours spending 3.4 days involved in these activities compared with just 28 per cent and 2.1 days just six years earlier.

The trend in time spent in the State for international delegates on pre and post-tours followed that of their staying time overall, with a drop from 4.1 days in 1994 to 3.5 days in 2000. There was some good news in the finding that although international delegates spend less time in the West, their participation rate in tours did increase from 49 per cent seven years ago to 63 per cent in 2000.

Unfortunately for the tourism market, the survey found international visitors have slowed down on their spending when touring with a drop from $955 in 1994 to $889 in 2000.

On the up side, national guests increased their average spending by a staggering 250 per cent from $253 to $886.

Fifty per cent of national delegates and 46 per cent of international delegates who undertook pre and post-touring travelled outside Perth.

The Perth Convention Bureau’s managing director, Anne-Maree Ferguson, said the survey results were very encouraging.

“The survey shows that a significant number of delegate dollars are finding their way into regional Western Australia,” Ms Ferguson said.

“And we would seem to be doing better than other Australian capitals. For instance, 49 per cent of delegates attending conferences in Sydney undertook pre and post-convention travel, which suggests that delegates who travel to WA are more inclined to participate in touring activity.

“The results further underline the value of the convention and exhibition sector to the Western Australian economy. This is high-yielding business which generates valuable foreign income for the State.”

As far as areas where expenditure was taking place are concerned, the survey found a drop in the percentage going towards accommodation with 31 per cent being accounted for in this area last year, compared to 42 per cent six years before.

The other main areas of expenditure were tours and entertaining 16 per cent (13 per cent, 1994), transport 12 per cent (8 per cent), food and beverage 12 per cent (14 per cent) merchandise and souvenirs 9 per cent (10 per cent) and registration 14 per cent (11 per cent).

The study surveyed 13 national and international conferences across a broad cross section of professional, technical and special-interest groups

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