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Business Events set to provide the missing ingredient for Sydney’s success

13 September 2022

Business events are worth $10.4 billion annually to the NSW economy with expenditure for the Sydney metropolitan area at $5.7 billion, according to an EY Report for the Sydney Business Events Coalition using pre-COVID (FY2019) figures.

While domestic attendance at business events is generally returning to pre-COVID levels, the lucrative international market will take years to recover.

The Sydney Business Events Coalition is calling on the investment in Business Events Sydney (BE Sydney) and Tourism (Business Events) Australia as well as the current event operating conditions to be maintained, ensuring these important events continue to drive not just economic returns but also “beyond tourism” benefits or business events legacies, which includes foreign investment in local research and development, innovation outcomes, global profiling, talent attraction and international network creation.

Furthermore, according to BE Sydney, 67% of visiting delegates would not have come to Australia if their conference, meeting or exhibition was not taking place here. They have been introduced to the destination through business event attendance, which also equates to results in leisure travel at the time of the conference in into the future.

Business events visitors spend over $800 per day, which is 30% more than leisure tourist, and 50% more than a local business event visitor, who spends $550 per day. Interstate business events visitors spend almost $600 a day.

ICC Sydney CEO, Geoff Donaghy said: “In FY19, delegates and attendees at events at ICC Sydney alone contributed almost $890 million to the local economy, of which 73% (A$654 million) came from interstate and international visitors. Less than 10% of the economic impact of business events is generated within the venue, the rest is shared with the local economy, including hotels, restaurants, tourism operators and transport operators.

“Since March this year, domestic attendance at ICC Sydney events has returned to pre-COVID levels, increasing foot traffic across Darling Harbour and the city alike. From March to June 2022, ICC Sydney hosted over 200 events with 369,000 attendees.

However, he warned international events were still fledgling and their attendance remained significantly lower than the pre-COVID period.

“Provided the current settings remain in place, or are improved, we anticipate international business recovering within the next four years.

“It is these large, international congresses that accelerate innovation and our local knowledge economy, they provide global recognition and opportunities for talent attraction as well as networks for local talent and the potential for research and development investment,” Donaghy said.

Committee for Sydney Deputy CEO, Ehssan Veiszadeh said Sydney needed to continue to market itself internationally to avoid losing out to global competitors.

“It’s so heartening to see the return of domestic attendance at business events and that the NSW Government is holding the line on operating conditions, but it shouldn’t step back from its commitment to business events as a strategy to rebuild our economy and ensure the vitality of our city returns to pre-COVID levels,” Veiszadeh said.

Business Sydney Executive Director, Paul Nicolaou said the economic impact of business events was a major driver of the city’s economy.

“Business events not only attract the brightest minds to our city to solve the world’s challenges, they are also a key driver of the local economy. Event attendees dine at local restaurants, stay in city hotels mid-week and visit our local tourism attractions.

“Sydney’s economy and the city’s vibrancy will only recover fully when international business events return,” Nicolaou said.

Together with the Committee for Sydney and Business Sydney, the Sydney Business Events Coalition comprises Sydney based members of the key association bodies and organisations representing business events: International Convention Centre Sydney, Committee for Sydney, Business Sydney, Professional Conference Organisers Association, Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux, Tourism Accommodation Australia, Accommodation Association of Australia, Meetings and Events Australia.

Members of the EEAA can contact the CEO at for a copy of the EY report prepared for the Minister.



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