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A warning on convention centres

By johnboy - 4 August 2006 4

We’re constantly being told by the hotel industry and Brendan Smyth that if only Canberrans spent a fortune on a “world class” convention centre the city’s hotels would be showered with riches. We’re then meant to hope that the hotel owners will give us a piece of the loot by employing more locals and using more goods and services.

The West Australian has a cautionary tale of where this sort of thing ends. (in dismal taxpayer bailed out failure)

If Perth with it’s climate and beaches is having these troubles it doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen in Canberra where we don’t even have an international airport.

If business wants to put the money up for a convention centre I hope the Government would get out of the way and let it get built (maybe even without demanding “contributions” to the ALP and select unions). But I’m buggered if I can see why taxpayers should be risking their money.

What’s Your opinion?


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4 Responses to
A warning on convention centres
VYBerlinaV8 9:15 am 08 Aug 06

Earlier this year I attended a conference in the US. Approx 30,000 people passed through the doors, with around 5,000 exhibitors and around the same in registered delegates. If the ACT wants serious international conferences to be held here they will need to:
* get a MUCH larger convention centre
* improve the airport
* find places to house and feed the attendees.
Personally, I am not a fan of the “if you build it they will come” mentality. Cold, hard business analysis is needed here.

publius 7:14 am 05 Aug 06

It is highly unlikely hordes of people in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney will come to Canberra for large scale conferences. Sorry – but that is the way it is. Similarly people overseas will probably not hold a major event here. Imagine flying from Sydney for a conference on a Dash 8 in bad weather- terrific. Flights from Sydney are invariably delayed. And when you get here for six months of the year it is cold. We won’t win the large scale conferences from other cities. So we shouldn’t gear up for those. What we want is government departments here holding their events in Canberra. Plenty of those end up in Sydney. Many are in that 100-300 range, are not huge but they are a good segment of the market to capture. We do not need therefore to over capitalise for this. The convention centre has been allowed to run down now for years. It is an embarrassment. For example, the toilets on the ground floor are filthy and stink. That is very bad marketing. The Centre just needs to be refurbished/maintained. We should avoid funding a white elephant.

johnboy 11:41 am 04 Aug 06

“Come to Canberra, safe and boring”

isn’t much of a pitch, and they don’t want the domestic market, not enough money in it.

seepi 11:40 am 04 Aug 06

Canberra is a good venue for serious conventions, where the delegates will actually attend the sessions, instead of nicking off to the beach/sydney shopping. And a trip to Canberra doesn’t look like such a rort as a conference in Hawaii etc. Yet there are good activities for any accompanying spouses (national gallery etc). And Canberra is easier to get to than Perth for most of Australia.

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