Think Queenland’s capital is ripe for meetings now? Just wait until you hear what’s on the horizon for this powerhouse of a city, says Brad Foster
Even before last year’s announcement that Brisbane would be the host city for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, things were happening. And fast.
With southern states impacted under lockdowns, Brisbane was powering ahead. It became the go-to for sporting events like Game II of the State of Origin, the NRL Magic Round and 2021 NRL Grand Final, the Brisbane Cycling Festival, the first Ashes Test, rugby union internationals, and the Fortinet Australian PGA and WPGA Championship – not to mention nabbing the 2020 AFL Grand Final. As armchair viewers living everywhere but in Queensland, we soaked it all in and wished we were there.
But now you can be – and should be making plans to do so! Major events like the Nitro World Games, FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup are all being held in Brisbane this year.
And looking down the lens a little further, there’s the FIFA Women’s World Cup to look forward to in 2023 and the UCI BMX World Championship in 2026, all of which will generate global interest in Brisbane and accelerate flow-on economic activity for the city.
Big things ahead for Brisbane
But before we get too far ahead, particularly if you’re looking at running a meeting in Brisbane in the next 12 months, let’s take a look at what’s happening right now. And who better than to ask than Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner?
According to Cr Schrinner, Brisbane is Australia’s fastest growing capital city – and it’s an exciting time for residents: “Our economy is recovering from the pandemic and expected to grow from $182 billion to $217 billion over the next decade,” he said.
“As an Olympic and Paralympic host city, Brisbane is well-positioned to become a destination for business and sporting events. Organisers wanting to take advantage of world-class facilities, a vibrant dining scene, a warm climate and a brilliant natural environment for their delegates need look no further than Brisbane as their next host city.”
Business and more in Brisbane
Brisbane isn’t just sports focused. For EAs in the business world, you’ll find it boasts an innovation-led economy. And it’s a global hub in terms of science, mining and resources, technology, education and cultural attractions. It provides abundant opportunities for economic growth and has an ideal climate for investment. Brisbane really is a natural home for domestic and international business opportunities.
The lifestyle is also a big positive. Brisbane is recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities with year-round blue skies and an enviable outdoor lifestyle. There’s a thriving multicultural scene, and some of Australia’s most beautiful natural landscapes, from the mountains to the bay, are on the doorstep.
With a population projected to grow by more than a million over the next two decades, Brisbane is drawing increased interstate migration to the wider region, and with that, is fuelling talent attraction.
An employment boom is expected across the region during the coming decade with industries such as construction, property, logistics, advanced manufacturing, health, professional services and tourism set to benefit. Emerging tech clusters aligned to the growth sectors are also expected to increase significantly, with current global strengths noted in property and advanced manufacturing.
Brisbane Economic Development Agency continues to invest in the grow and scale of property technology (PropTech Initiative) and innovations within advanced manufacturing for food and beverage (Future Food Initiative). There’s also a new initiative scoped for medical devices (MedTech).
Brisbane is also home to several globally-renowned companies, including Canaria Technologies, which is developing cutting-edge technology to improve safety in the resources sector. Needle-free vaccine delivery company Vaxxas is here, as well as gut-biome analysis solution Microba; rapid-antigen testing Ellume, and advanced diagnostics company Xing Technologies.
MICE in Brisbane
The hotel sector certainly has its share of luxury accommodation options. Over the past few years, Brisbane has welcomed 20 new luxury hotels – W Brisbane, Crystalbrook Vincent, The Calile Hotel and Emporium South Bank to name a few – providing more than 5,000 additional rooms plus boosting meeting and event facilities.
On top of that, there’s a $15 billion infrastructure pipeline set to transform the region and strengthen Brisbane’s MICE offering. The tidal wave of major infrastructure projects include Brisbane Airport’s new parallel runway, the international cruise terminal, Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane Arena, Brisbane Metro, Cross River Rail and new international aviation routes. Meanwhile, the Victoria Park redevelopment will be a future Olympic venue – and the city’s biggest new park in half a century. All of this is sure to showcase to the world just how ready Brisbane is to become an Olympic city.
Stunning new and improved hotels aside, the mighty Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) remains the heart of the city’s offering for conferences and events. While many stand-alone convention centres around the country were quiet in 2021, BCEC was all systems go, hosting a total of 571 events for the year – 190 of those in the final quarter alone.
BCEC’s general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, says there are more than 600 events on the calendar for 2022, including 120 conventions: “As Australia’s most awarded convention centre, ranked number two in the world, we are excited to be part of Brisbane’s growth trajectory,” he said.
“The city already has so much to offer. With the boost of further investment as part of the Olympic infrastructure program, together with the world-class facilities and stellar reputation of BCEC, as well as the fantastic climate and access to Queensland’s globally-renowned natural attractions, its appeal as a business events destination will be unmatched.”
The best of both worlds
One of the pleasures of holding meetings and events in Brisbane is the opportunity for EAs to experience more than the inside of a conference venue within minutes of stepping outside.
The wonderful weather positions Brisbane as an epicurean epicentre with destinations including South Bank, Howard Smith Wharves, Eagle Street Pier, Fish Lane and James Street in Fortitude Valley.
For cultural pursuits, step out and into the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art or the Brisbane Powerhouse. Or, for something a little bit different, hold a cocktail party or dinner in one of these waterfront venues.
Fashionistas aren’t forgotten in Brisbane, with an abundance of retail precincts, including Queen Street Mall and James Street – all within walking distance of major meetings venues. The addition of Queen’s Wharf in 2023 will deliver one of the world’s finest luxury shopping precincts with DFS, part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group, creating their largest shopping complex in Oceania, right in the heart of Brisbane city.
Don’t forget the allure of South Bank and its 17 hectares of lush parklands, world-class eateries and stunning river views. There are hundreds of delightful events all year round, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
The Brisbane Boom
Growth within Brisbane in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games has already started – and savvy meeting and event planners are the sure-fire winners.
Come 2032, Brisbane will be the most prepared city in the world to ever host an Olympic Games.
More than 20 new hotels have opened in recent years, and there are more on the horizon – the $3.6 billion dollar Queen’s Wharf mega-development, for example, will provide four new ultra-luxury hotels (The Ritz-Carlton, The Rosewood, The Star Grand and Dorsett) right in the heart of Brisbane by the time the Games kick off.
Fifty restaurants, premium shopping, function centres and around 2,000 apartments are also set to be included, as well as a pedestrian bridge connecting the precinct directly to South Bank. At its centre, the world-class Sky Deck – catering for events of up to 1,200 people – will frame the river and offer views over South Bank.
Elsewhere, plans are in full swing for the redevelopment of existing venues, such as The Gabba, which is increasing its capacity to 50,000 spectators – as well as for new spaces. Brisbane Arena, a 17,000-seat entertainment venue will be constructed in the heart of the CBD. An indoor sports centre for basketball, a slalom canoe course and an indoor sports centre for boxing are all expected, too.
The beauty of many of these venues is that major consideration is being given to ensuring ease for public access. Expect cycle and pedestrian paths, as well as links to public transport.
Finally, visitors after a breath of fresh air will love the additional public space and parklands, all enhancing Brisbane’s aesthetics, liveability and offering. One thing is certain – you should keep an eye on Brisbane in the years to come.