Australia’s emerging cities wriggle through tight big-city competition

Aerial view of Brisbane

Not to be outdone by their metropolitan neighbours, smaller cities in Australia are emerging with unique marketing campaigns and new business event offerings, with some destinations set to transform entire precincts.

For example, Cairns is pumping A$176 million (US$138 million) into the expansion and refurbishment of the Cairns Convention Centre, which will open in the 2018/19 financial year near an upcoming integrated resort and entertainment district. The city is also receiving a slate of new hotels in the next three years, marking its first hotel opening in over two decades.

Aerial view of Brisbane

Rosie Douglas, director of business and tourism events, Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef, said that these additions will increase the city’s total exhibition space by 3,000m2.

“We’re not a capital city, we don’t have massive universities, but we are all about the natural environment. So we’re hoping to pull in more events and conferences from the agriculture and marine science industries. That’s the identity that we’re pushing,” Douglas told TTGmice on the sidelines of AIME 2018.

Similarly, Brisbane is banking on its geographical advantage to promote the coastal city, to the extent of pumping in A$110 million to transform the previously derelict Howard Smith Wharves into a riverside restaurant and hotel complex.

Its general manager – events, Scott Bayne, shared: “We’re really pushing the focus on local and regional (aspects) of Brisbane and greater Queensland. A lot of people don’t fully appreciate that we have a river connection to a beautiful ocean and beaches that are only accessible from our site, and other sites to come (in the future).”

Hardware aside, the local supplier network plays a role in attracting agents as well.

Lilian Hii, executive assistant to chief information officer, Boral Digital Solutions, observed that unlike in certain larger cities, suppliers in Queensland are eager to help each other by referring agents to other suppliers.

“They have the drive to build up Queensland as a region instead of competing (with each other),” said Hii.

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