QUEENSLAND Treasurer Cameron Dick has formally announced that Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) will re-open in August 2020, with Queensland Health approving the centre's Site Specific COVID Safe Plan.

Mr Dick called the re-opening of BCEC i"a significant milestone for Queensland".

"As we unite and recover from the pandemic, it's cause for celebration that we can welcome staff and visitors back to this outstanding venue," Mr Dick said.
BCEC general manager, Bob O’Keeffe said the centre's plan is integrated with VenueShield, a new environmental hygiene protocol developed by BCEC’s parent group, ASM Global and rolled out at ASM Global’s 325 venues worldwide. VenueShield provides the most advanced hygiene safeguards and exceeds current regulations, according to Mr O'Keeffe. 
To develop the comprehensive new protocols, ASM Global engaged its in-house executive teams including BCEC and distilled the expertise from across its global network of venues spanning stadia, arenas, theatres, convention and exhibition centres, including the Asia Pacific region. 
The centre is planning to host its first events from August 2020, with the health and wellbeing of clients, patrons and staff given top priority.
A newly developed BCEC Safe Event Guideline has been prepared and will assist clients in planning their events at the Centre and encompasses all the necessary health and hygiene safeguards, food safety measures and social distancing required under the current opening conditions. The Guideline is designed to ensure the safe hosting of events, providing reassurance and confidence for the Centre’s patrons and staff.
With a total of 44 meeting rooms and event spaces, as a venue BCEC is able to provide the additional space that is required to accommodate current social distancing regulations for events of all sizes. The Centre has flexible and adaptable spaces, floor plans and capacities to satisfy all required protocols.
Mr O’Keeffe said, "It is yet another sign of green shoots in the recovery of the business events industry. 

“BCEC drives almost 70 percent of Brisbane’s business events room nights and we are looking forward to welcoming events back to the centre and doing what we do best, attracting much sought-after and high yield business events to Brisbane and Queensland.”



AUSTRALIANS are being urged to help bring a vital boost to the tourism industry by taking a holiday at home this year, but the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has warned it could hardly become a simple fix for the country's tourism businesses.

“While the government is doing the right thing in urging Australians to spend their holiday savings at home this year, the idea that it can somehow replace the income the industry derives from international visitors is unrealistic,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Domestic holidays can and will help many Australian tourism businesses, particularly those set up specifically for local visitors, but for those who have strongly invested in the inbound market or who have a business set up purely to service the international visitors, domestic travellers just won’t generate the same income.

“Our research has shown that a third of tourism businesses will not benefit from the domestic tourism market with more than half of businesses expecting to not be viable within six months without international visitors," he said. 

“This is hardly surprising given the average spend of an international visitor is $5,211. It’s just not feasible to think most Australians would spend that amount of money on a domestic holiday in order to make up a $45 billion shortfall."

Mr Shelley said expectations on the travel budget capacity of our domestic market are unrealistic given diminished consumer confidence, perceived economic insecurity and disrupted leave entitlements experienced by many Australians this year. 

“We have already seen some tourism products adjusting their pricing to encourage locals to get involved, but this price reduction is often being massively and unsustainably subsidised and not delivering any real profits to the business.

“Many other tourism businesses are just not able to ‘pivot’ to the domestic market.  They are either exclusively focused on international visitors - like inbound tour operators who build itineraries for international travellers and support and service them during their stay, or tourism businesses which have invested in designing products to appeal to particular international markets.

“Our export tourism industry has been an enormous success and has delivered double digit growth for much of the last decade.  What's important now is that we preserve the export tourism businesses which will form the foundation of our rebuilding so we can reignite that successful growth once international borders are open.

“In truth, there will be very few export tourism businesses who will benefit significantly from a domestic uptick and they definitely won’t be looking at the level of revenue our inbound sector has delivered in the past.

“While we encourage Australians to get out and see Australia, we need to recognise there are some valuable and otherwise viable businesses which will need Government support in order to make it through this long period of hibernation.

“ATEC is currently in discussions with the industry and Government agencies to negotiate an extension of industry support to ensure we protect this important part of our tourism eco structure and help build a plan to successfully drag our tourism industry out of this huge dark hole.”



DREAMWORLD, the multi-faceted theme park on Queensland's Gold Coast, has welcomed the immediate release of $11 million from the Queensland Government’s $50 million Tourism support package.

The funds, announced by Premier Annastacia Palasczuk and TourismMinister Kate Jones today, would "help support our iconic theme parks which are important destinations and drivers for the Queensland economy" a Dreamworld spokesperson said.

“There is no doubt the past few months have been incredibly difficult for many industries and businesses," Dreamworld chief executive officer, John Osborne said.

"The tourism industry on the Gold Coast has been impacted more than most. Theme parks are an important part of the tourism industry and are a key economic driver for many small businesses in the region. 

"We welcome the support announced by the Premier and Minister Kate Jones today as it will reduce our cash burn while we work with the Queensland Government to finalise a date that we can viably re-open,” Mr Osborne said.

“We are pleased the government has recognised the significant role our Parks play in the economy and Dreamworld looks forward to working with the government to understand more details to ensure our businesses recover, unite and grow stronger post COVID-19."

Australian owned and operated, Dreamworld is Australia’s biggest theme park, home to more than 40 rides, waterslides and attractions including Tiger Island, DreamWorks Experience, ABC KIDS World, Dreamworld Corroboree and wildlife precinct and WhiteWater World.



THE AUSTRALIAN Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is doing what it can to help the travel and tourism industry focus on staying the course of the COVID-19 shutdown and prepare as best it can for a pared-back emergence from the current cold reality. Most are barely afloat.

International visitor results for March, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) "confirm that our once strong and vibrant tourism export industry is in crisis having dropped by more than 60 percent on the same month in 2019" said ATEC managing director Peter Shelley. For most, they only ray of sunshine is the Federal Government's JobKeeper program to assist staff to stay linked to their tourism businesses. 

“A few months ago tourism was a rising star of Australia’s export sector, bringing $45 billion to our economy each year, but now it's fallen to a pale imitation of its great past,” Mr Shelley said.

“Just as we began to rebuild from the rubble of January's bushfires which saw mass cancellations from both domestic and international visitors, tourism businesses across the country were the first to be hit by the coronavirus, which has bought our inbound industry to a complete halt.

“We now work towards the opportunity of reopening some businesses to welcome domestic visitors on a phased timetable which will vary across the states. While this is a positive, many tourism and hospitality businesses will choose to remain in hibernation simply because essential social distancing requirements make it commercially impossible to open the doors.

"The reality is it will be 2021 before we see any sign of international visitors back on our shores and inbound tourism will be one of the last sectors of our economy to make it to the ‘other side’, sadly, with many tourism businesses and thousands of staff lost on the journey.

“The only bright light in the horizon for tourism businesses targeting the international visitor is the possibility of travel across the Tasman and our industry welcomes this opportunity with open arms," Mr Shelley said.

“These businesses are desperately hoping we can welcome New Zealand visitors before the end of the JobKeeper program in September, otherwise the many businesses who are desperately trying to survive will not be there to help rebuild the industry in the future.

“For the thousands of people have committed a lifetime to establish successful businesses working in the international tourism sector, the opportunity to welcome their first overseas visitors remains a distant thought, as our borders are expected to remain closed for many months," Mr shelley said.

“While there is a lot to look forward to as the dark days of the COVID fog lifts, we all hope the recovery will be quick and that governments across the country work in partnership with the industry to build back a better tourism industry which will thrive into the future.”




By Ellen Boonstra, Asia correspondent >>

GIVING NEW MEANING to the phrase ‘close to nature’, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort is giving guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the night observing Thailand’s majestic elephants in their natural habitat – while staying in unique transparent Jungle Bubbles.

Unfolding across 160 acres of Northern Thailand’s ancient jungle, the resort is set atop a hill overlooking the Mekong and Ruak rivers.

The secluded location is exclusively positioned to take in majestic three-country views over the confluence of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, and grazing elephants in the most stunning of natural settings below.  

Located in the jungle, the two pods are perched on raised wooden decks offering uninterrupted views of the elephants, as well as stargazing at night.

The Jungle Bubbles were custom designed by Eye In The Sky and are constructed with high-tech polyester fabric using exclusive ‘Precontraint technology’ – developed by innovative French materials company, the Serge Ferrari group – to create a milieu in which guests can enjoy an immersive, close-to-nature experience.


To complete the glamour camping experience – known as ‘glamping’ – the well-appointed bubble accommodation is fully air-conditioned, offering 22 square metres of indoor floor space; a 4.5m diameter bedroom and living space, with a king bed and seating area under a transparent roof; and an enclosed, non-transparent ensuite shower and vanity.

Guests at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort can purchase the Jungle Bubble experience as an optional activity and spend the night from dusk till dawn, returning to the hotel in the morning.

Rates start from 17,700 Thai baht per night (A$850) for two people and this includes a delectable dinner basket; a fully stocked mini bar; 24-hour in-room dining service; and tea and coffee making facilities. 

As leaders in the field of ethical elephant tourism, the resort is the driving force behind the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, set up primarily to help elephants that cannot help themselves.

The foundation assists local people that find themselves, through abuse or through circumstance, unable to provide and maintain an income for themselves, for their mahouts (people who work with elephants) and their families.

Here appropriate activities are designed that allow the elephant caretakers to raise the funds they need to look after the elephants without forcing them into activities they might not enjoy.




AUSTRALIAN tourism exports have delivered more than $350 billion to our economy over the past 10 years and a record $45.4 billion last year alone. This is export income Australia will not see again for a number of years, according to the Australian Toruism Export Council (ATEC).

“Today’s International Visitor Survey (IVS) results released by the Federal Government are a snapshot of where we were right before tragedy hit our tourism industry in January 2020,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Remember these figures, sadly they are the best we will see for some time. Shift forward to April 2020 and we see an industry devastated by COVID-19 with mass job shedding, business closures, hibernation, dislocation of the export channel and an industry desperately trying to hold on till we get to the other side. 

“While Australia’s domestic tourism sector may revive in the coming months, it’s likely international tourism will be much slower and longer to rebuild and our growth will be greatly handicaped on the other side.

“Australia remains a desirable destination and we have members who are still getting inquiries from international guests who are wanting to come later this year, the trouble is we just don't know if the borders will be open.

“We often go back to the horror of September 11, when every plane across the globe was grounded for just a few days.  That was a disaster for international tourism, but now we are looking at an international travel lockdown for at least six months."

In a survey of 500 industry members today, ATEC revealed 49 percent of respondents believe New Zealand will be the first international market to re-engage, followed by China (26%) with traditional markets of Europe, the UK and US expected to be the last to return to our shores. 

In the meantime ATEC has developed a whole of industry, integrated support package to help tourism businesses rebuild and come out the other side stronger and more capable of facing the new normal.

“A key feature of our program will be engaging the skills and knowledge of our Inbound Tour Operators in helping tourism regions to develop new tourism product for the international market.

“One thing tourism businesses can do during this hibernation period is to work on their business - most of the time they are focused on working in their business, providing service to their customers.  We want to make sure these businesses are able to use this opportunity to re-skill for a new tourism marketplace.”



BRISBANE hosted more than 940 business events worth an estimated $351 million in economic impact in the 2018-19 financial year, almost doubling the previous year's results according to the most recent Queensland Business Events Survey.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the Queensland Business Events Survey showed the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibition sector in Brisbane was enjoying "incredible success". Support of long-term exhibitions and conferences continues to pay off, in spite of visitor market fluctuations.

“2018-19 saw 209,000 delegates attend a business event in Brisbane, delivering 579,986 delegate days – a 44 percent increase on the previous financial year,” Cr Schrinner said.  

“The business events sector is vital to Brisbane, boosting our economy, growing our knowledge sectors and supporting our accommodation, venue, hospitality and service providers.

“The biennial Brisbane Truck Show always delivers a major economic boost, attracting over 34,000 visitors to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) in May 2019 and generating an estimated $75 million in economic impact," he said.

“Brisbane’s world-leading research and expertise also secured international events including the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology Congress with 1,500 delegates in April, and the Australasian Sonographers Association Annual Conference with 1,200 delegates in June.

“Our success continued throughout 2019 with the Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayor’s Forum in July. This event attracted 1,400 government, business and emerging leaders from 140 cities for four days of talks on the innovation, mobility, liveability and sustainability of cities.

“Held in November 2019, the strategically important International Air Transport Association (IATA) Slot Conference brought together 1,200 representatives from international airlines and airports to plan future flight schedules," Cr Schrinner said.

“Playing host to this conference gave us the opportunity to provide industry with a first-hand experience of Brisbane’s transformative growth and the mid-year opening of Brisbane Airport’s second runway, as we continue our focus on attracting new direct airline services.” 

Economic development board Brisbane Marketing worked with the State Government and Brisbane Airport Corporation to secure an AirAsia service from Bangkok (June 2019), Qantas services from San Francisco (February 2020) and Chicago (April 2020) and a Virgin service from Haneda, Tokyo (March 2020).


Brisbane Marketing’s general manager of business and major events, Juliet Alabaster, said the city sets itself apart with a Team Brisbane approach to building its visitor economy.

“Our strategic partnerships with BCEC, all levels of government and industry trailblazers continue to produce successful bids and grow Brisbane’s profile as a leading business events destination,” Ms Alabaster said.

“A wave of tourism infrastructure including the Howard Smith Wharves dining, entertainment and events precinct, new four- and five-star hotels and experiences has also played a huge part in our ability to attract conferences and incentive events.

“Brisbane continues to break records with international and interstate visitation and spending at all-time highs, while BCEC enjoyed its most successful financial year ever and passenger numbers at Brisbane Airport during 2019 exceeded 24.1 million for the first time.”

Business events to be held in Brisbane in 2020 include:

  • · Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Asia Pacific Forum and Exhibition 2020 BCEC, 800 attendees expected.
  • · Hort Connections – BCEC, 1200 people.
  • · 2020 Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction – BCEC, 2500 people.
  • · 23rd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED 2020) – Royal ICC, 1000 people.
  • · Flight Centre Global Gathering 2020 – 4000 people.
  • · Land Forces 2020 – BCEC, 1000 people.
  • · NKT-IKBU Buddhist International Fall Festival 2020 – Royal ICC, 2500 people.
  • · Early Childhood Australia National Conference 2020 – BCEC, 2000 people.
  • · Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Congress 2020 – BCEC, 1500 people.
  • · International Pediatric Sleep Association Congress (IPSA) and Sleep Down Under 2020 – BCEC, 1000 people.



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