Every city interested in making its mark on the world continually looks for ways to become more attractive to business and tourism. Ways to shine brighter on the world stage, and not just because they are proud of who they are. It’s because building a city’s economy through conferences, events and tourism in general is big, big business. And it’s highly competitive.
Canberra, for a city its size, already punches well above its weight and in recent years it’s astonishing what has transpired here. In the last 12 months, the National Convention Centre alone has held 320 conferences and events, which has brought $60.6 million to the ACT’s tourism economy.
But is there more we can do, say, over the next five years? You bet, but it’s about building on what we’ve already achieved and refining our approach — continuing along the path on which we’re already travelling.
We’re working on securing international flights. We’re already centrally located and accessible to Sydney and Melbourne, but international flights would be a true game changer. It’s time. It’s needed. The excitement is building. It’s hard to fathom just what the ripple effects would be. Phenomenal. And I can’t wait.
Our cultural institutions need to continue to stretch in every direction to keep our social calendar packed with top-notch events that draw both national and international attention. Each year they work hard to offer something new, fresh and different. It’s essential that this continue. This includes the likes of Floriade, the Multicultural Festival, Enlighten and our very own red-carpet fashion event, Fashfest.
Why is this so important? It’s important because our cultural icons, blockbusters and these flagship events are relevant to not only leisure travellers. They’re relevant to business visitors who can’t wait to bust out of their conference or work meeting to enjoy with the capital has to offer. And they do …
We need to highlight the natural beauty and clean, fresh air Canberra offers. I walk to work every day and am free to breathe deeply.
We also need to throw our weight behind everything that the capital offers. What our award-winning wineries offer, and how close they are to the city. How easy it is to get around the capital. One minute you’re in a café in the city and the next you’re experiencing a flock of gang gang cockatoos flying overhead as you walk outdoors. We should never take this for granted but work as hard as we can to promote this. Then promote our uniqueness again, and again and again to bring the customer experience to life. Our investment in our city is, after all, for future generations.
And speaking of cafes. Our hospitality industry is booming and needs to continue to be innovative and continue to focus on service and the customer experience. Indeed, every business operating in this city needs to think ‘continual improvement’ for the betterment of the capital. Why wouldn’t we?
Jenifer Dwyer Slee is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the National Convention Centre, working for the InterContinental Hotels Group. She is also Deputy Chair, Destination Marketing and Visitor Experience Sub Committee, on the Tourism Industry Advisory Council.
Jenifer has just won a Lifetime Award from the Professional Conference Organisers Association, for ‘Support, Encouragement and Mentoring to the Business Events Sector in Australia’. She is the only Canberran to have received such an award.
Photo: Martin Ollman