Sydney and Melbourne might steal the spotlight in Australia, but the traditionally ‘second-tier city’ of Brisbane is gaining clout over the years with a string of global and regional events such as Siggraph Asia 2019. Public events and festivals too such as Curiocity and World Science Festival are attracting national visitors.
According to Juliet Alabaster, general manager, business events, Brisbane Marketing, the state has many things going for it, chief of which is its “uniquely Australian” nature.
“Within an hour you can have a city experience, you can get across to the islands, you can get to the outbacks, you can go south to the beautiful beaches on Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast,” said Alabaster. “You also have the oldest and largest koala sanctuary along with dolphins. So by staying in Brisbane, you’re actually able to see some of the best parts of Australia.”
On top of that, she mentions the way the city works together to pull together an event, although it’s worth noting that this quality is not unique to Brisbane. “We often work in partnership with the convention centre and our hotel partners to accommodate groups. And then we work closely with our local and federal government for support,” she said.
She also mentions the weather as a plus point: “We are lucky in Brisbane – we are tropical, beautiful blue skies, that helps with our friendly nature as well. Winter time in Brisbane is a favourite for a lot of people because we still do the really comfortable days and clear blue skies. 12- to 19-degree days would be winter for us.”
As with many parts of Australia, China is Brisbane’s biggest international inbound market, aided by direct flights from Beijing, China, Guangzhou, Shenzen. This is followed by New Zealand, the UK, the US, and Taiwan.
In terms of plans in the pipeline, Alabaster said there’s “a lot of infrastructure development going on in Brisbane”. When the city hosted G20 in 2014, the Lord Mayor created an incentive in the lead-up for more accommodation infrastructure between 2014 and 2024, which meant that 30 new hotels would be developed in that period. So far, 20 of those have been delivered with recent openings being W Brisbane and Westin Brisbane.
“We’ll also have a second runway in the Brisbane airport that would double our aviation capacity to the likes of Singapore or Hong Kong airport,” she said. “We’re getting a new cruise terminal opening in 2020 so that would triple our cruise industry into Brisbane. And Queen’s Wharf is a huge integrated resort development that would open from 2022.”
To encourage and educate locals to win big events for the city, Brisbane Marketing runs a program called Trailblazer Grant where locals can apply for funding to attend international conferences to then bid and bring back to Brisbane. This has resulted in some sweet wins for the city including the International Society of Posture & Gait Research’s World Congress in 2021 and the International Peptide Conference, also in 2021.