31/07/2007 - 22:00

PCB takes international view

31/07/2007 - 22:00

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Having received an additional $11.9 million from the state government to promote Western Australia as a business travel destination in late March, the Perth Convention Bureau has undertaken an overhaul of its structure and operations which will shift its

PCB takes international view

Having received an additional $11.9 million from the state government to promote Western Australia as a business travel destination in late March, the Perth Convention Bureau has undertaken an overhaul of its structure and operations which will shift its focus onto the international market.

The extra government funding took the state’s total spend in this area to $17 million over five years, with this input met by a $2.2 million injection from the private sector.

While not specifically designed as a bail-out for the loss-making Perth Convention Exhibition Centre, which had cut its international marketing to focus on domestic business, the funding will benefit the city’s high-capacity venues, such as the PCEC, Burswood Resort and the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle.

Among the initiatives announced by the PCB on how it intends to spend the money is the development of a recognisable ‘business events’ brand for WA, which will coincide with a major national and international destination marketing campaign.

PCB general manager Christine McLean said the extra funds gave the bureau the resources to bid for larger international conferences than would otherwise be possible.

She said WA was competing against destinations such as Singapore, which had an $80 million budget, as well as Dubai and South Korea, which had reportedly spent upwards of $250,000 per bid to secure business.

Ms McLean said the Convention Bid Fund – a $1 million injection of government funds over three years matched by $500,000 of private-sector money – was drawing to a close, so the need for financial assistance was greater than ever.

“One of the biggest changes is the increase in bidding funds. Five years ago, funding was around $5,000 per bid, now we’re looking at $100,000 per bid,” Ms McLean told WA Business News.

“Within five years we’ll see a shift and our biggest market will be international business. That’s a big shift for us. But that brings with it more competition, and we need to be able to compete.”

Ms McLean said another PCB initiative was the establishment of the Energy Cities Alliance, which will involve the sharing of bid information between bureaus in cities at the forefront of the global energy industry.

She said the PCB had been in discussions with its counterparts in cities such as Calgary, Houston and Aberdeen, and expected to finalise an agreement over the next couple of months.

Ms McLean said the bureau would target conferences in industries which WA had a strong presence.

“We are looking at our areas of expertise, which is why we initiated the Energy Cities alliance. We’re focusing on what we’re good at [for example] health, mining, agriculture, science and technology,” she said.

The bureau is also looking to increase its staff numbers from 14 to 18 over the next few years.

Under the new strategy released by the government in March, for which the new money is intended, the PCB was required to meet specific performance targets.

The main performance measure was a direct delegate spend target of an additional $95 million over five years as a direct result of the additional funding, contributing to a total delegate spend target of $395 million over five years.

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Bradley Woods said while he welcomed the additional funding, he would need to see positive results for the industry and significant new business being generated from the injection.

“We would like to seek additional information from the PCB to ensure the $95 million as a target is an appropriate and achievable measure given the funding boost from the government,” he said.

The PCB recorded a direct delegate expenditure of $72.21 million in 2005-06, up 4.3 per cent on the previous year but down on the $84.74 million recorded in 2003-04.

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