Sydney promotes to China as Australia's 'business events capital'

A CITY of Sydney-led trade and business delegation to China will showcase the city’s claim as Australia’s number one destination for business and tourism events, in a move to attract even more visitors.

The 100-strong delegation to Guangzhou, from May 30 to June 2, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Sydney-Guangzhou sister-city relationship, and promote Sydney as 'Australia’s premier business conference city'.  

“I am leading this delegation to China to promote collaboration on major events between our two strong economies,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Sydney is now the top travel destination for all visitors from China to Australia. This is about strengthening our close ties with southern China and opening doors of opportunity for businesses and tourists from China to host and attend events in Sydney.”

Business Events Sydney (BESydney) CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith, said Asia continued to be a key driver of incentive business travel into Sydney.

“In the last three years, BESydney has secured an estimated $230 million worth of Asian incentive business, and we’ve seen 20 per cent year-on-year growth over the past decade in the value of events secured out of this region. Approximately 50 percent of this business is from China,” Ms Lewis-Smith said.

Thanks to the City of Sydney’s Chinese New Year and New Year’s Eve celebrations, as well as Vivid Sydney, Sydney is now the leading travel destination for all visitors from China to Australia as reported by Tourism Research Australia.

According to new figures from Destination NSW, Chinese visitors to NSW spend 93.5 percent of their time in Sydney.

The Australia China Business Council (ACBC) is part of the Guangzhou delegation, and will lead a contingent of 30 Sydney business leaders for a trade and investment forum and business matching event during the Guangzhou visit.

ACBC NSW president, Jim Harrowell said Sydney was a “key gateway” for both business travellers and holiday makers.

“This visit to Guangzhou will forge meaningful business partnerships that will provide an extraordinary opportunity for Sydney in particular to showcase its unique events and business conference hosting services, which will help accelerate overall economic growth," Dr Harrowell said.

Other recent research shows Sydney is well-placed to further tap into lucrative event-based tourism from China:

  • Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival is the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of Asia with more than a million visitors this year – an increase of 67 percent on 2015;
  • More than 46 percent of people travelled from overseas specifically for this year’s Sydney’s New Year’s Eve – the most watched and one of the biggest one-night events globally, generating more than $130 million annually for NSW;
  • Destination New South Wales last year found more than 42 percent of international Vivid Sydney travel packages were purchased from China. The international spend contributed $63.2 million to Sydney’s economy;
  • Sydney Airport witnessed in December 2015 a 31.4 percent increase in inbound traffic from China, majority coming from Guangzhou;
  • Chinese tourism numbers are expected to continue to grow with projections seeing at least two million Chinese visitors to Australia each year by 2025; and
  • Business Events Sydney reported 75 percent of business incentive delegates arrived from China.

Latest NSW Government figures show China remains Australia’s largest market for service exports, including financial, ICT, travel and education sectors. These exports grew 20 percent in 2015 to $9.8 billion.

Sydney’s events industry will receive a further boost with the opening of the International Conference Centre in late 2016. This new convention and exhibition facility will help Sydney accommodate increasingly high levels of Chinese visitation.

The City’s delegation visit to Guangzhou will include:

  • Orchestral works performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and guest performers from the Xinghai Conservatory of Music;
  • A sustainability forum led by the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney;
  • An alumni event hosted by Sydney’s six leading universities;
  • A full-day business conference headed by the Australia China Business Council, hosting around 100 attendees from both cities; and
  • An arts exhibition exploring trade and migration between the two cities.



Victoria's China strategy embraced by business

THE Victorian Government's new China strategy has received the 'thumbs up' from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said he welcomed the recent release of the Victorian Government’s Partnerships for Prosperity China engagement strategy.

The Victorian Chamber had previously called for the development of a new international engagement strategy that would align Victoria’s strengths with opportunities in high growth countries in its recent 2016-17 State Budget Submission.

Mr Stone said the strategy was a good example of how Victoria’s sectoral strengths can be aligned with China’s needs.

“It includes not only targets for trade, investment and jobs growth, but practical steps to establish new engagement platforms, attract new investment and build connections through reciprocal cultural partnerships," Mr Stone said.

“It is encouraging to see the Victorian Government supporting businesses to become more internationally competitive and forge new business opportunities in the fast growing Asia region.

“The $66 million boost in the upcoming budget for the Victorian Government Business Office network will help connect Victorian businesses with other important trading partners in the region as well as in traditional markets like Europe and the USA.

“While the strategy represents an important step forward in fostering market opportunities in China, it must be supported by economy wide reforms that keep our internationally engaged industries competitive. These include lower business taxes, less red tape and improvements in trade related infrastructure," Mr Stone said.

“The Victorian Chamber’s upcoming International Engagement Taskforce report that will be released in coming weeks will explore a range of issues relating to engagement with China and the greater Asian region and will deliver a suite of recommendations that will compliment and build on the China strategy."



Aust. companies access US Rocketspace Landing Pad

THE Australian Government’s first Landing Pad is now operational at Rocketspace, a technology campus in San Francisco.

Trade and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo said the Landing Pad was designed to help Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and build high-growth and high-return enterprises. 

“It will provide Australian tech start-ups with a collaborative workspace, allowing them to pursue international opportunities,” Mr Ciobo said. “The next Atlassian, 99 Designs or Hydrus could be launched from here.”

Australia’s Special Envoy for Trade, Andrew Robb said San Francisco was a global innovation hotspot.

“Positioning the Landing Pad within RocketSpace will accelerate access to international business networks, entrepreneurial talent, business development and investors,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said RocketSpace had been working with tech start-ups and corporate innovation professionals since 2011. The company offers a complete suite of services, including office-as-a-service, accelerator-like programming, consulting, and events. Together these create a unique ecosystem for innovation to thrive. 

Assistant Minister for Innovation, Wyatt Roy said integral to the appeal of the Landing Pad will be the locally engaged Landing Pad Coordinator responsible for the provision of value-added services.

“The locally engaged coordinator will be a significant resource and will bring unique knowledge and experience to help Australian start-ups achieve their internationalisation efforts,” Mr Roy said.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said the Landing Pads were a key element of the Australian Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) and will support Australia’s ongoing economic diplomacy and science diplomacy efforts globally.

“Innovation in our economy is key to our nation’s future jobs and growth which is why the Government is vigorously implementing its National Innovation and Science Agenda,” Mr Pyne said.

“Landing pads form part of our global innovation strategy, a key component of the agenda, which will give Australian entrepreneurs an opportunity to compete globally.

“Our global innovation strategy will advance Australia’s international collaboration performance and encourage Australians to leverage entrepreneurial expertise found in key locations overseas, like San Francisco, Tel Aviv and others,” he said.

Austrade received $11.2 million in Budget funding to establish five Landing Pads and also develop a new annual in-bound innovation forum, fostering collaboration and attracting international market experts, entrepreneurial talent and investors to Australia.

In addition to San Francisco and Israel, a further three Landing Pad locations will be identified in the near future.

The launch of the San Francisco Landing Pad was part of the recent inaugural Australia United States Business Week (AUSBW) – a 240-strong business mission focused on technology and innovation.



APEC Business Travel Card extended to five years

THE APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) had its validity extended from three years to five years from September 1, 2015. 

Through a single application, the ABTC will offer bona fide businesspeople a five-year, short-stay, multiple-entry visa to other participating member economies and priority lane access at major airports in Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) economies, said Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash. 

Senator Cash helped to drive the changes in her former role as Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

“Facilitated entry for frequent business travellers in the Asia-Pacific region is now even more convenient,” Senator Cash said. 

“Extension of validity of the ABTC will significantly benefit business travellers who will not have to apply for a new card as frequently. It will also reduce processing times.

“These changes benefit not only Australians travelling throughout the region for business, but also the broader Australian economy by fostering trade, investment, innovation and new services and technologies.”   

The ABTC offers significant efficiencies for cardholders and it has been found to significantly reduce the cost of business travel between APEC economies. The card has reduced application fees, as well as the time and costs associated with application and immigration processing.

The ABTC was launched by APEC economies in 1997 and has experienced significant growth in recent years. The number of active ABTC users in the year to June 30, 2015 increased by more than 15 percent, to more than 190,300.

This was an initiative of the APEC Business Mobility Group which met in the Philippines in January 2015 and was an agreement reached by all 21 APEC member economies.

All successful applications for an ABTC after September 1 will now be valid for five years.