The NSW government is right to push more business events and conferences to the bush.
The conferencing industry is currently worth about $145 million every year to regional NSW, but it’s an industry that’s been in decline for regional areas.
In the past decade, the number of visitor nights generated by business events in regional NSW has fallen by an average annual rate of 1.9 per cent. Our market share of the eastern seaboard is down from 13.1 per cent in 2007 to 11.5 per cent in March this year.
When you crunch the numbers, that’s millions of dollars regions miss out on.
The $6 million NSW Regional Conferencing Strategy and Action Plan aims to stop the decline with a variety of strategies.
But one area it could focus more on, is travel. Travel time, frequency and cost is the biggest hurdle regional NSW faces when it comes to attracting big business events and conferences.
Fortunately, Dubbo is ahead of most regional centres in that field and has a better chance of capitalising on the strategy.
Our city has direct air links with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle and the flights take not much more than an hour. And with early advance bookings, government departments and corporations can keep ticket costs down.
As Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright points out the city has great facilities at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the Western Plains Cultural Centre, the CSU campus and the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre.
They are backed up by “great” accommodation availability and conferencing costs are “very competitive” compared to major cities.
Dubbo ticks a lot of the boxes for organisations seeking an easily accessible, cost-effective yet still attractive destination for conferences or conventions.
The city already hosts such events with skill. An example was earlier this year when it became the first venue outside Canberra to host the annual Canberra Amateur Theatre (CAT) Awards. Participants came from the national capital and regional centres around NSW.
Clearly Dubbo should easily make it onto lists of conference venues for consideration.
Business events bring visitors and money to our area and help boost the economy. Most of the money spent here, stays here.
Bush bashes work for us. We should get more.