200k jobs at risk from convention ghost towns
QUEENSLAND'S billion-dollar business meetings and convention industry is under threat from coronavirus with the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) a virtual ghost town.
BCEC general manager Bob O'Keeffe said that the centre remained open for the smaller sized events and meetings that were already booked. The National Cabinet has banned all indoor meetings with more than 100 people.
"We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and review in accordance with advice from the Federal Government, Australia's Chief Medical Officer and the Queensland Government," said Mr O'Keeffe.
"This is a challenging time for all of us and the safety and welfare of our guests, clients and team members and their families has always been of paramount importance and remains our top priority.
"We have been working closely with all clients of upcoming events for a number of weeks now to help find solutions and assist in any way we are able."
On Wednesday afternoon, the halls of the centre were empty in contrast to most normal weekdays when the facility hosts conventions, meetings and business lunches. In one room, technicians were setting up equipment for a webcast for a conference.
The Australasian Hospitality and Gaming Expo (MAX AHG Expo) which was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday was cancelled last week.
The coronavirus has undercut a period of expansion for the centre. Mr O'Keeffe said in 2018 that the centre had a record number of bookings until 2028, with 1300 events including 411 conventions.
The BCEC was developing an increasingly competitive advantage over rival centres in Sydney and Melbourne because of its proximity to hotels, restaurants and other attractions in South Bank.
Meetings & Events Australia said business events deliver $30.2 billion in direct expenditure and supported Australia's GDP with a total economic contribution of $24.9 billion. A total of 193,203 jobs were attributed to the sector across the country.
Originally published as 200k jobs at risk from convention ghost towns