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MICE - Whole-city focus for PCEC chief

NEWLY appointed Perth Convention Exhibition Centre chief executive Paul D’Arcy hopes a whole-of-city approach will help place Perth among the list of top international convention destinations.

The former Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre deputy chief executive said PCEC would be working closely with the Perth Convention Bureau to coordinate a whole-city focus to get the city behind any bids for international events.

“We will be looking at events that are the most beneficial for the city and the State, focusing on international events,” Mr D’Arcy said.

With the average international delegate spending around $600 a day in the city – not including money spent on pre and post-touring opportunities – Perth business has a lot to gain from a coordinated approach.

Mr D’Arcy said the centre would be calling on the Perth Convention Bureau, Perth hotels and tourist bureaus to get their support when bidding for international events.

“It is about time for some of the major international conventions to come back down this way again,” he said. 

“Perth is well positioned as they [the conventions] have most likely done Sydney and Melbourne before.”

Perth holds an advantage as a convention destination in South-East Asia due to its close proximity and ease of access to the region. The ease of access from the PCEC to the airport, hotels, shops and restaurants is proving to be a strong drawcard, Mr D’Arcy said. 

He told WA Business News there were a lot of conventions and exhibitions interested in the PCEC, representing about $100 million to the city over the next five to 10 years.

He expects to announce several secured convention contracts in the near future.

Well-known local and respected professionals who lobbied to get big conventions to Perth also would be a key factor in attracting events, Mr D’Arcy said.

“Generally speaking, the Australian medical and scientific fraternity is well respected overseas,” he said. “Also there’s mining and resources industry; WA has a great reputation in these areas.”

The PCEC will be WA’s largest convention centre, able to cater for functions up to 2,500 delegates and with the potential to attract eminent individuals and politicians from all over the world.

Mr D’Arcy said that a risk analysis would be undertaken for each event to ensure the appropriate security measures were implemented.

“A lot of money has been spent on technology and the very best security system available,” he said.

“A risk analysis is done for each event based on what type of event it is and the prevailing events occurring at the time.”

Mr D’Arcy said a risk assessment of professional individuals and political leaders would dictate the appropriate level of security. 

Despite increasingly sophisticated communication systems and their effect on the demand for meetings and conventions, Mr D’Arcy said it was the value of meeting face to face with colleagues to chat and exchange ideas that continued to be a major drawcard for convention centres.

“Teleconferencing plays a part, we use technology in the MICE industry to enhance what we do,” he said.

“In a medical conference, for instance, you can have 2000 people watching an operation as it happens, which could be 5000 miles away or down the road at Royal Perth Hospital.”

After three decades of experience in the convention and exhibition industry and in international hotel management and hospitality, Mr D’Arcy believes flexibility is the key to a successful convention centre.

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