CONFERENCE with us
Not so very long ago, Tasmania was viewed by the rest of the world as that tiny little island at the bottom of the map, known primarily for apple production (earning us the moniker The Apple Isle) and the Tasmanian Devil (although usually the cartoon version as opposed to the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial version).
Back then, most of us fortunate enough to live here had at least one story of bumping into a tourist on their travels who had flown in and hired a car thinking they could drive around the entire island in just one day before flying back to Melbourne or Sydney the next morning (technically, maybe you could, but you would be doing yourself an incredible injustice in the process).
Then in the early 2000s, the phenomenon that is Mona came along, putting us fairly and squarely on the map. All eyes were on Tasmania and the rest of the world finally caught up and caught on to what we Tasmanians had been unassumingly reveling in for years… the world’s cleanest air, pristine stretches of coastline, crisp and cool rugged alpine ranges, an abundance of fresh local produce and some of the best Pinot and Whisky in the world!
Suddenly, being the tiny island at the bottom of the map was in vogue and everyone wanted in. With the spotlight firmly on us, people started looking beyond the old cliches, seeking to experience Tasmania’s own brand of the unique and the bespoke off the beaten track.
Whilst we will always deal in the boutique and the intimate, Tasmania can and does offer the best of both worlds when it comes to business events, frequently hosting association conferences and events of scale in our major city centres in both the north and south.
Hobart is home to two of our largest conference and plenary spaces in Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart and Wrest Point. With myriad options available for offsite dinners and functions, event organisers can choose to host cocktail parties at nearby vineyards in the Coal Valley just 15 minutes from the CBD, or opt for something more central in one of Hobart’s many beautiful historical buildings.
The city can comfortably cater for association events up to 1100 pax, and regularly does. Hobart’s first major conference since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress held back in May 2021. 850 delegates converged on Hobart for the five day event held at Hotel Grand Chancellor overlooking the waterfront. More recently the Society for Mental Health Research hosted its Annual Conference at the same venue for 250 delegates. Both were Waldron Smith Management Events and Managing Director Kate Smith says Hobart really hits the mark for conferences up to 1100 pax.
“Hobart is a picturesque harbourside city with impressive capacity to deliver on conference, event and AV capabilities, and delegates also get the opportunity to explore the city which is right on the conference doorstep and enjoy an immersive Tasmanian experience while they are there”.
The other key reason Tasmania is such an obvious choice for the association market is because despite our small island status, we are big on innovation. As the gateway to the Antarctic we are home to world leading researchers and oceanographers, and Tasmania has also reached net zero emissions status powered entirely by renewables thanks to our hydro electric and wind schemes.
Fertile volcanic soil and high rainfall has ensured the north of the state is a food bowl and hub for innovation in agriculture, and the state is well versed in medical research, viticulture, aquaculture and sustainable forestry practices.
With University of Tasmania campuses in our three major metropolitan regions, Tassie boasts a hive of local talent and industry experts when considering key note speakers from the host destination.
For Andi Lucas, Executive Officer of Tasmanian Hemp Association and Event Manager for the Australian Industrial Hemp Conference, bringing the third biennial to Launceston for 2022 allowed the executive to leverage Tasmania’s status as an industry leader, currently producing around 80 per cent of Australia’s commercial hemp crop.
“For me personally it was so exciting to bring the Australian Industrial Hemp Conference to Launceston to gather world leading experts from around the globe in a state where hemp production is such a big industry, and it was wonderful to include so many local stories in the program.”
Ms Lucas says another significant benefit of conferencing in Tasmania is the close proximity of conference facilities to regional site visits.
“I have seen firsthand delegates amazed by the fact that they can be sitting in a plenary session in Launceston, and then within half an hour, be on site participating in a site visit and learning about local innovation in the region in real time. This is a huge bonus to conferencing in Tasmania over a larger mainland city”
For the association market, Tasmania offers the capacity, facilities and conveniences of a larger city, with the charm and experience of a small town. Both Launceston and Hobart are vibrant communities rich in history and culture with a thriving foodie scene. Delegates to these places are able to meander on foot and experience the best these cities have to offer within walking distance of conferencing facilities.
As an island with a long history of punching well above its weight, the business events sector in Tasmania is no exception, as more and more savvy event organisers are discovering as our industry recovers from the disruption of the last two years.