Australia on Its Way To Full Recovery

Brisbane city skyline

Skift Take

Australia's significant investment in infrastructural growth during the Covid pandemic is paying off. New hotels and venues await business event attendees keen to experience Aussie hospitality.

Business events in Australia are on the road to a full recovery now that it has overcome the challenges of the Covid pandemic. The country’s focus on future-proofing and providing a steady stream of opportunities has ensured a strong recovery path for Australia.

Recovering from the pandemic also entails reinstating leisure travel, especially from regions like China. Despite being down compared to the U.S., the steady return of travelers from China is a positive sign, according to Robin Mack, Executive General Manager of Commercial & Business Events Australia. He shared that total arrivals into Australia from the U.S. are 92.8% of 2019, while arrivals from China stand at 45.8%.

The return of aviation serves as another critical marker of success. Mack shared that Australia expects to be at 99% capacity compared to pre-Covid by next March, which stands at 88% today. For air travel to and from the U.S. specificaly, today’s capacity is 71% and will be 94% by March. Mack underlines this remarkable comeback from the Covid pandemic’s harsh impacts, saying, “that capacity build-back is very much in place. It’s gaining the momentum we need.”

Incentivizing Incentives

Business Events Australia’s Bid Fund Program, the destination’s subvention fund, has brought significant wins for the country. “Since we launched it in 2018, we have had 114 wins worth A$855 million ($550 million),” said Robin Mack, Executive General Manager of Commercial & Business Events Australia. He sees clear momentum, with 34 of those wins coming in just this year, showing the strength of the incentive programs.

Australia invested heavily in infrastructural growth during the Covid pandemic, which has resulted in unprecedented growth. Mack mentioned 206 new hotel openings within the last three years. “The good news is it’s continuing, which is fantastic,” Mack comments encouragingly on the ongoing infrastructural developments.

New product highlights include the new W Sydney, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, Capella Sydne, and the refurbished and expanded Cairns Convention Center. Mack also shared his excitement around the opening of The St. Regis Gold Coast, a Marriott hotel in Adelaide, and The Star Brisbane

Australia’s research into consumer trends, the Business Events Consumer Demand Project (CDP), indicates an increase in budgets of 12% and a top rating for the nation regarding incentive travel across 22 attributes. This surge in demand is met with enthusiasm by Mack, who says, “They rated Australia top, which was amazing. We know the demand’s there.”

Australia Finds Opportunities in Disruption

The merger of three national business event associations into the Australia Business Events Association (ABEA) made the news globally. Two more associations still exist in the sector, but according to Mack, this move has brought about a well-appreciated consolidation. “For us, it streamlines our work,” Mack reflects. Business Event Australia partners with ABEA on an emerging leaders program.

Despite the ongoing challenges around the Victoria State government pulling out of hosting the next Commonwealth Games, Australia’s sporting event calendar remains enviable. The country recently co-hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup with New Zealand. Several global sporting events are confirmed, including two Rugby World Cups, a Netball Women’s World Cup, and culminating in the 2032 Summer Olympics in Brisbane, Queensland. 

The nation continues to focus on leveraging these opportunities to promote itself. “We’re not promoting the event per se. We’re promoting, when the eyes of the world are on those events, how we connect them to Australia. And a meeting planner is still a leisure customer as well. So they will see our advertising around those events, and it always bodes well for the destination if it goes well for us,” said Mack.