The G20 has been and gone. Why didn’t Canberra get a look in ?  Aren’t we the capital city ?

The OECD has declared that this is the best city in the world, but not good enough for Vladimir Putin and David Cameron and the rest ?

6477The biggest single reason we weren’t considered is the lack of convention facilities. It’s an embarrassment that a national capital city such as this one can’t provide a serious convention centre but it continues to be a pipe dream.

I had a long discussion with Robyn Hendry from the Canberra Convention Bureau about all of this last week and she explained to why we fell short of the mark. 

If we could have waved a magic wand and created a world class convention centre in the winter, we still would have fallen way short.  Why ?

It’s about hotel accommodation.

So it’s not necessarily about number of rooms but rather the type of inventory of hotel rooms.  We don’t have enough of the high end suites at enough different places. When world leaders converge on a city, they don’t travel like a football team.  They don’t tend to stay in the same hotel as other leaders. We need a dozen or so Hyatt Canberras….and we don’t have them. It would have been a push for Brisbane to squeeze them all in.

Robyn did a report on all this stuff a few years ago for the ACT Government.  Since then our high end hotel capacity has improved, but there’s a long way to go. 

It’s not all bad though.

Our Airport capacity and general infrastructure has improved dramatically in the past few years to the point where we could cope on that front.  And the entry and exit points to the city are such that it lends itself to a major security operation like G20. It would be a lot easier to ‘lockdown’ Canberra than was the case in Brisbane.

If we had an upgraded, world class convention centre the accommodation options would naturally improve.6405

“We need to induce more demand for this sort of accommodation,” Robyn told me.  How do we do that ? By running more conferences.

How many conferences do you think we’ve knocked back in the last 12 months because we didn’t have the facilities ?  Robyn told me we’ve said to 89 different conferences.

The average conference involves around 500 people and would go over 2 to 4 days. You do the sums on that as far as extra overnight stays in the capital.

When are we going to abandon this light rail folly and build something that pays for itself and thensome.

All those in favour of a convention centre over a tram line say ‘Aye’ and say it loudly.