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May 7, 2012
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Exhibition industry cautiously welcomes SICEEP announcement


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The peak body that represents the events and exhibition industry, Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), has cautiously welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the NSW State government of a $1 billion investment in the redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct (SICEEP) and Darling Harbour.

While acknowledging that the project will be a great boost for Sydney and Australia, and help to keep us “competitive in a global business events economy”, Joyce DiMascio, general manager of the EEAA, says the exhibition industry remains concerned about the provision of a temporary facility for large exhibitions during the three-year construction period.

“While the industry understands some disruption will be inevitable, the government is yet to find suitable alternative venues for the 65 large exhibitions and events that will be displaced over the three years,” she said.

While the EEAA was working productively with Infrastructure NSW to find alternative facilities for smaller exhibitions and events, according to DiMascio, no venues have yet been found for major shows such as Sydney International Boat Show, Australian International Motor Show, Fine Food Australia, Reed Gift Fair and others requiring between 15,000sqm and 30,000sqm of exhibition space.

“We need the government to invest in suitable temporary facilities and make it as high a priority as the longer term plan,” said DiMascio. “You can’t shut down Sydney for three years. The companies that exhibit at these major expos are selling product. If you take away the trade and consumer events through which they sell you impact on business, employment, sales, the NSW economy and ultimately the Australian economy.” 

While the government is proposing Moore Park as a possible solution, members of EEAA do not accept this as viable for the large events.

“You cannot hold the Boat Show at Moore Park,” said DiMascio.

Meanwhile, leading exhibition organiser Diversified Exhibitions has warned that six major shows could be forced out of Sydney if suitable temporary space could not be found by mid-year.

“We applaud the Government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure that will allow Sydney to attract an even greater share of the exhibition and events business,” said Matt Pearce, managing director of Diversified Exhibitions. “Our immediate concern is the lack of clarity around alternative venues for large exhibitions that require more than 10,000 metres of exhibition space.”

Diversified Exhibitions is the biggest user of the Darling Harbour exhibition space holding 10 major events each year. Six of these events – Fine Food Australia, Fitness and Health Expo, Grand Designs Live (pictured), Good Food and Wine Show, DesignEx and DesignBuild – cannot be accommodated in the Government’s proposed alternative venue at Moore Park.

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With major exhibitions required 18 months to two years of forward planning, Pearce says the 2014 calendar of events need to be finalised by mid-year.

“If we don’t have a suitable high quality space confirmed by the middle of the year we will have to make decisions about where we go,” said Pearce. “If we have to move to Melbourne or Brisbane we will do so but this would be a huge loss to Sydney.”

“We are working closely with Infrastructure NSW on this issue but we need the Government to act with urgency to find suitable temporary venues.”

Pearce said there were sites in Sydney, such as Barangaroo and White Bay, which could be explored to assess their viability as interim venues, fitted out with high quality temporary structures.

“We would prefer to keep these major events in Sydney but it is difficult to make any firm decisions until we know where the venue will be how much space there is and the configuration,” he said.

 


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