TTGassociations Publications January 2019 - Page 23

Direct international flights give fillip to association conferences as the Australian capital city courts regional and global market. By Gerardine Donough-Tan Canberra comes into its own Left: National Convention Centre Canberra gets dressy for a gala dinner Above: Canberra Airport welcomes more international airlines, making the Australian capital even more accessible C investment opportunities and tourism to the economy” and pledged to continue working with the airline to promote the expanded service in key Asian and Euro- pean markets, a commitment echoed by SIA in Australia. “Canberra is an ‘emerging’ destina- tion for the international conference and conventions market, but the attraction and delivery of international conferences (in the purest sense) is still in its early stages,” acknowledged Carla Huetter, director of sales and marketing, National Convention Centre Canberra (NCCC). So, key stakeholders are bidding for more business, and thereby live up to the city’s name. Canberra is believed to have originated from a local Aboriginal word for ‘meeting place’. The Canberra Convention Bureau (CCB) actively targets conferences rang- ing from 50 to 1,500 attendees from Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Strong economic sectors are cyber anberra, a popular choice for domestic association meetings, saw its market potential grow when Singapore Airlines (SIA) launched four-times weekly non-stop flights from Singapore in September 2016. The ‘Capital Express’ to Welling- ton, New Zealand, was delinked in May 2018 in favour of daily flights to Canberra via Sydney. With Qatar Airways’ starting a daily non-stop service from Doha in February 2018, Canberra now has twice-daily di- rect connections to the rest of the world. Other airlines are in talks to begin direct flights too. Since the commencement of direct flights in 2016 up to end-June 2018, Canberra has seen a 19.5 per cent rise in international visitation. VisitCanberra commented that SIA’s increase in frequency would provide “an additional 40,768 additional seats annu- ally, bringing significant benefits in trade, security, defence, agribusiness, research and education, space and spatial science, renewable energy, health, social and sports science. “The Bureau identifies potential bid leaders from associations and academic institutions – knowledge leaders involved with international conferences, particu- larly those aligned with Canberra’s key sector strengths,” explained Avon Dissan- ayake, a spokesperson with CCB. Many of Canberra’s research organisa- tions, academic and cultural institutions partner with CCB through the Research and Learning Institutes Group. Besides assisting in bid proposals, it adds value to business events, giving event organis- ers direct access to the latest projects being conducted in Canberra’s academic and research institutions. For instance, in February, the Annual Australasian Aid Conference will bring together researchers from across Aus- tralia, the Pacific, Asia and beyond who are working on aid and international development policies. The 13 th International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology is targeting more than 500 international delegates – mainly from Asia-Pacific – in August 2019. Robyn Chapman, CEO of Assistive Technology Australia, said: “Canberra’s proximity to the Asia-Pacific region and the city’s facilities, including the purpose-built National Convention Cen- tre Canberra, make it an ideal location to host this significant event. Canberra also provides access to the Federal Govern- ment for the policy issues we will be rais- ing on the assistive technology agenda.” Museum Galleries Australia is aiming for 600 delegates at its conference in May 2020. The three-day programme