DRONE: Aerial photos of the CBD development in Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast where council hopes to build a 'landmark' exhibition and convention centre.
DRONE: Aerial photos of the CBD development in Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast where council hopes to build a 'landmark' exhibition and convention centre. Patrick Woods

Business visitors go begging as Coast overlooked

A $180 MILLION exhibition centre could attract thousands of business visitors per event who are now being directed away from the Sunshine Coast.

Professional conference organisers in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are interested in bringing events to the region with attendances from 100 up to 2000, according to PG International's Entertainment, Convention and Exhibition Facility specification and brief.

But the lack of "suitable meeting facilities" compared to other Queensland and Australian centres is letting the Coast down as the document states the Event Centre Caloundra cannot meet the increasing demand to facilitate larger, more broad-scale events.

"An estimate of business event origins indicated 65 per cent interstate, 25 per cent intrastate, five per cent local and five per cent international, mainly from New Zealand," the report said.

 

Concept design of the landscaped perimeter of an open plaza area around a proposed Sunshine Coast Entertainment, Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Concept design of the landscaped perimeter of an open plaza area around a proposed Sunshine Coast Entertainment, Convention and Exhibition Centre. Sunshine Coast Council

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman said the council would put the business case to tender after the terms of a $700,000 State Government contribution were confirmed. Council has also set aside funds in its 2018/19 Budget.

He said the timeframe for a completed business case depended on when the tender was awarded but council sought to have it completed in a "timely manner".

Preliminary reports in 2017 indicate the proposed centre would cost $180 million, but the spokesman said there was "no appetite" in the private sector to invest without "substantial" government contributions and/or incentives.

"In regards to funding construction of the facility itself, council is only seeking what the State Government has been prepared to do elsewhere in Queensland - a clear commitment to fund the delivery of an exhibition and convention facility," the spokesman said.

Council did not comment on how much a business case would cost or their contribution, but said the availability of funds would determine the timing for the delivery of the project.

Visit Sunshine Coast believes sectors that would utilise the centre could include tertiary education, the health industry, tourism, local government, agriculture, financial services, sporting club and community groups.