Interview: Kristian Nicholls, Business Events Sydney,

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1. What kind of industry clusters is Sydney on to get beyond tourism benefits? How those industries are linked to government policy to develop the city? 

The significance of business events and their contribution to the growth of economies and communities cannot be underestimated. Our role within the city goes beyond bidding for and securing business events.

Today, convention bureaux don't simply market destinations. We are a vital conduit for connecting industry, academia, government and the private sector; aiding global talent acquisition and skilled migration, research and development, trade and investment, and creativity and innovation.

By strategically aligning the events we secure with key national and state priorities, we are making notable contributions to both our visitor and knowledge economies.

In Sydney, we're serious about creating a better future through collaboration - with clients, business, government and academia - to achieve the best results for our clients, our city and our people. By bringing together the world's brightest minds, we can have a hand in helping to solve today's and tomorrow's greatest health, scientific, sustainability and business challenges.

For example, in Sydney last year, the 105th Rotary International Convention raised worldwide attention for its End Polio Now campaign and funds that will immunise 240,000 kids against the disease. And, we are one step closer to easing the burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease - some of the leading causes of death, disability and reduced quality of life around the world - with the creation of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney. This $385 million research facility, which opened last year, was established as a direct result of profile generated by the 10th International Congress on Obesity held in Sydney in 2006.

These are examples of some fantastic social outcomes that are directly attributable to hosting international business events in Sydney. To have the greatest impact, we have been very focused on building on our areas of competitive advantage for the benefit of both the events that choose Sydney as their host, as well as for our local business and academic communities.

We are increasingly bidding for, and securing, events that are aligned to the NSW Government's priority sectors. Sydney is home to world-class international and home-grown companies and talent, as highlighted by the Government's priority sectors, including professional services (law, finance, accounting), health and science, and ICT. Playing to the city's strengths is giving us a distinct competitive advantage. Over 70% of association events secured within the past year have fallen within the NSW Government's key focus areas. Professional services is just one example. With NSW boasting a $60 billion financial services sector, we have secured a number of highly coveted international professional services events, including Sibos 2018, the World Congress of Accountants 2018, the International Bar Association Annual Conference 2017 and AIPPI World Intellectual Property Congress 2017, to name just a few.

2. In what aspect Sydney is attractive destination for Japanese planners? What they can get in Sydney?

Sydney has long been a popular choice for Japanese visitors, both for leisure and business. We have a natural affinity with Japan, based on a long history of cooperation and common interests. Japan is now Australia's seventh-largest tourism market and NSW is home to more Japanese-born citizens than anywhere else in Australia.

When we say Sydney has a whole-of-city approach to business events, we truly mean it. From the tourism and events sector, to government at all levels, academia, business and industry, the whole city gets behind business events and ensuring that together we showcase the smarts and ideas our city is famous for.

The NSW Government has made its commitment to the business events industry very clear. As Australia's first state for business, the NSW Government is investing in the programs, precincts and infrastructure that are vital for the State's long-term productivity and competitiveness. The State was one of the first in Australia to embrace business events as part of an aligned economic development strategy. Because of this multi- tiered, whole-of-state engagement, our ability to help clients meet and exceed their event objectives is unique.

As the first Australian bureau to establish a local office in Asia, we have learned a great deal over the past decade about doing business in this part of the world - in fact we continue to learn. Relationships are number one and it's vital to take the time to develop and nurture them. Our relationships with buyers in the Asia Pacific and beyond help us to shape our client offer.

We know what it takes to build outstanding incentive programs that have a genuine impact on employee retention, staff satisfaction and overall morale and motivation. We are committed to our clients and ensuring they achieve a return on investment from their decision to hold their incentives in Sydney. Past clients have reported notable increases - as much as 20% - in staff performances just from announcing Sydney as their incentive destination.

Sydney's appeal is multifaceted - it's an iconic city with a host of outdoor activities in both Sydney and regional New South Wales (NSW) that naturally reward, motivate and inspire visiting delegates. Our icons, such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, are hard to beat and we take full advantage of our expansive harbour front - the largest natural harbour in the world - to deliver outstanding experiences.

We're also a proven event host and an easy place to do business. We're home to an established and professional event services industry, world- class meeting infrastructure and accommodation options, and offer easy accessibility between the airport, conference facilities and the city centre. Many of our hotels, shops and tourist attractions have multi-lingual staff (including Japanese-speaking) to ensure a seamless experience for delegates once they arrive.

And, Sydney, Australia is a safe and stable destination. We've been named the world's safest city with the friendliest people by the 2015 Anhot-GfK City Brands Index - an accolade we have won for many years. Sydneysiders (us locals) are extremely welcoming and multicultural. It is great to see a resurgence of interest from Japanese corporates looking to host incentive programs and reward trips in Sydney again. This year we have welcomed two large incentives from Japan.

Global direct selling healthcare company Naturally Plus brought 1,700 of its highest performers to Sydney last month (November) for its Leadership Invitational. And, the Suzuki Japan Annual Incentive brought 1,250 delegates to Sydney in May.

And, the future of Japanese travel to Sydney looks set to soar with new flight routes between Tokyo and Sydney due to commence in December this year. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the number of Japanese visitors climbed 18 per cent in September 2015, compared to the same time last year, ahead of All Nippon Airways officially operating its new schedule later in the year.