Tourism spin-off an appealing outcome

CONVENTION delegates generate substantial revenue for tourism and related businesses in WA, according to the results of convention delegate expenditure research for the Perth Convention Bureau.

Results from the latest survey (in 2000) indicate that an average convention delegate from overseas spends a total of $3,066 during a five-day convention on a range of items, including accommodation, food and beverage and entertainment. Spending is not confined to Perth tourism businesses, with retail and transport also gaining from convention delegate business.

Nor is spending confined to the Perth CBD, as about 61 per cent took pre/post convention tours in 2000 with an average duration of 5.5 nights and average spending of $889.

These tours were in both Perth and Fremantle (46 per cent) as well as regional WA, with 24 per cent up north to places like Kalbarri and Broome, 13 per cent down south (Mandurah, Margaret River and Albany) and the 9 per cent in the Heartlands (Wave Rock). Only 8 per cent combined their convention in WA with a tour in the eastern states, which is a pleasing rate of retention for WA tourism.

A decade ago, only about 28 per cent of convention delegates from overseas were taking pre or post-convention tours, so the spin-off to WA tourism from the conventions sector is growing, to a point where many tour companies specifically target this market by offering a range of tours to WA wineries, galleries and natural attractions.

According to the Perth Convention Bureau, MICE business was worth $630 million to WA in 1996/97 and the number of meetings was forecast to continue to grow at 10 per cent annually. The higher forecast growth in the number of meetings was partly due to the expected opening of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2004. However, WA’s share of Australia’s $7 billion MICE sector was only 6 per cent in 1996/97 so there is much room for growth in both the number of meetings and the expenditure of delegates.

One constraint to this growth is airline capacity into WA following the closure of Ansett. In the three months following the cessation of Ansett flights to Perth last September, six conventions were cancelled and two postponed.

This led to a loss of 6,847 delegates and $13.6 million in delegate expenditure. Limited flight capacity reduces the numbers of international as well as interstate visitors because about 25 per cent of international visitors to Perth enter Australia through Sydney (20 per cent) or Melbourne (5 per cent).

If airline capacity from the eastern states is not re-stored to WA, interstate and inter-national delegate numbers may not reach the forecast growth rate of 10 per cent per annum up to 2004.

Interstate delegates spend $1,675 dollars during an average 4.7 convention night stay. They are also active in pre and post convention tours – 60 per cent took tours of an average 5.2 nights’ duration.

Half of interstate delegate tours were in Perth and Fremantle, with 17 per cent up north, 28 per cent down south and 5 per cent in other parts of WA.

With the extensions to Burswood Convention Centre completed and the new Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre opening in 2004, WA tourism and related businesses are well positioned to target this high-spending market.

The new centre could also attract an increasing proportion of delegates from overseas, as larger conventions of up to 2000 delegates will be held in Perth.

This can not only generate more revenue for Perth hotels and restaurants, but also increased tourism to the regions, provided confidence and capacity in airline services to WA is restored.

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