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Easier access to the Great Barrier Reef for worldwide delegates

Ross Steele

Ross Steele, GM of the Cairns Convention Centre, tells ITCM that Cairns has just won better air connections

As the city of Cairns is about 2,700km (1700 miles) north of Sydney in the furthest corner of Queensland, one doesn’t often stumble across it. However, I did bump into Ross Steele at EIBTM 2012 in Barcelona. He is General Manager of the Cairns Convention Centre and, accompanied by Jenny Graham, his Director of Sales, he didn’t miss this opportunity to tell me that Cairns just got closer to Europe.

However, even this news is tempered by the fact that the new route lies through the hub of Shanghai. ‘China Eastern Airlines’, runs his argument, ‘has just started regular direct flights to Cairns, thus opening up over 300 international destinations. Delegates and tourists can now fly in from almost anywhere in the world with the minimum of trouble’.

‘Most foreign visitors access Australia via an Asian airport’, Ross continued, ‘so this new connection with Shanghai makes Cairns no more of a problem than any other part of Australia.’

Cairns is host to a growing number of large conventions and of course this news will be of particular interest to their organisers. Dr Robert Smee, Conference Convenor for the 3rd World Congress on Larynx Cancer, which is to be held in Cairns in 2015, sees the new flights as a boon to any international event in Cairns that can be of special interest to Chinese delegates, as well as from elsewhere.’

China is a large and growing source of delegates for many different sectors and Cairns has just, therefore, become a more relevant location. And it has state-of-the-art facilities for big international events, namely the Cairns Convention Centre. This is designed to cater with ease for events of from 300 to 3,500 delegates. It already has bookings for 12,000 delegates in 2013, requiring an estimated 120,000 hotel bookings.

‘Once in Cairns,’ Ross emphasises, ‘delegates also enjoy being tourists, because we have a tropical climate and Cairns is regarded as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. They also take the opportunity to visit the Daintree Rainforest. This is the largest area of rain forest in Australia with literally thousands of wonderful birds and other wildlife.’

Events booked into the convention centre for 2013 include the 11th World Convention of the International Confederation of Principals (academic heads), the International Symposium on Plasma Chemistry and the International Society for Gastrointestinal Tumours.

‘A real coup that will put Cairns in the forefront of the news’, claims Ross, ‘is the fact that Cairns is to be the venue in 2014 for the Meeting of G20 Finance Ministers’.

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