Gearing up for the next main event

THE Western Australian events industry is gearing up for a rush of new business when the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre opens in about 12 months.

The PCEC is expected to add significant new capacity to the market upon completion, with the Perth Convention Bureau expecting a 12 per cent jump in delegate numbers for 2004, despite the centre only being operational for a few months during this period.

While expanded facilities at Burswood Resort Casino, The Esplanade Hotel Fremantle and the massive city foreshore development are expected to help pull crowds, they are meeting demand created by a growing aversion to offshore travel for business conferences and meetings.

These predictions are supported by the National Speakers Association, which claims a 30 per cent increase in member numbers to date in calendar 2003.

According to many industry players WA is considered a fresh alternative to well-worn eastern States destinations, and a safer alternative to some areas in South-East Asia and the Pacific. There is speculation, however, that some of the existing demand could be attributed to the relocation to WA of events and conferences from SARS or conflict-affected areas in the Asia Pacific region.

But the talk of a big jump in the events market was not all bullish.

Some players are concerned that Perth’s hospitality sector is not prepared for the large number of delegates and their demands, such as late night meals and entertainment.

It has been suggested that Perth will be on a steep learning curve to meet the expectations of large numbers of international and interstate delegates and their families, with the PCEC able to host 2500 delegates at a time.

However, most in the industry are confident that WA is well positioned to take advantage of the flow-on business arising from the events business market.


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