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Professional education a driving factor for events

THE health, lifestyle and recreation, business and mining professions are the top clients of WA’s $630 million meetings, incentives, conventions and events industry.

Figures from the Perth Convention Bureau for 1999-2000 show that while one-off and miscellaneous events made up most of the 201 conferences and exhibitions held in WA that year, the medical profession accounted for 17 per cent of this figure.

Lifestyle and recreation events constitute 14 per cent of the total, followed by business, education, agriculture and mining.

Congress West principal Katie Clarke said while the medical and engineering fields were two of the industry’s biggest clients, the information technology sector was likely to join them soon.

“As new industries become more professional we then see the formation of associations which will then hold events,” Ms Clarke said.

“IT is a good example of this. Twenty years ago the industry was nothing and today it is huge, with its associations supporting many sub-specialties, such as web-based marketing.

“The rapidly changing nature of that industry means people have to attend to keep up with it.”

The number of events held by the medical sector can be attributed largely to the fact that almost all health professionals must participate in ongoing education

in order to maintain their licence to practise.

Each professional is required to earn a certain number of points annually by attending seminars and conferences.

“Medical practitioners and other professionals must keep their learning up to date,” PCB sales and marketing manager Jill Henry said. “And generally, the easiest way for them to do this is to attend a conference organised by one of their associations.”

Meetings Industry Association WA branch executive officer Helen Martin-Beck said it was not only the established professions that stipulated their members continue their education.

“The current trend is that the public is looking for quality training and guidance in all areas, just about every profession has educational seminars and meetings,” Ms Martin-Beck said. “The training and education events make up a big part of the MICE industry.”

Ms Henry noted that, as professions and industries expanded, conventions and seminars became increasingly specialised.

“The conferences and seminars have become specialised to cover a particular division of the profession, which means they are smaller and shorter,” she said.

Ms Henry said that, while the conferences were getting smaller, they also were becoming more frequent, as associations and companies tried to cover each section of the profession in more depth.

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