Sydney's pitch may snatch 2002 symposium

Sydney's pitch may snatch 2002 symposium

NSW may be poised to break Queensland's decade-long stranglehold on one of the most prestigious conferences on Australia's IT calendar.

In the Carr Government's sights is the high-profile symposium the Gartner Group stages for technology business analysts.

Government overtures, plus new facilities created by the Olympic Games building boom, may tip the scales in favour of Sydney as the preferred site for next year's conference.

Gartner's annual four-day talkfest, which routinely attracts about 1000 IT professionals, has been staged on the Gold Coast or in Brisbane for the past nine years.

Gartner director of conventions Gabrielle Dalsasso said a move to Sydney was being considered, although labelling it a "strong possibility" would be an over statement at this stage.

A major factor was delegate preferences, she said.

"We look at where our audience wants us to go and at the end of the day, if my attendees want to go to Sydney, that is where I will put it."

Gartner will sound out delegate opinions in the next few weeks, Dalsasso said.

Another factor relates to physical suitability of sites, she said. The Sydney Olympics has left that city with convention sites which, for the first time, meet Gartner's criteria in terms of size and location, she noted.

Event industry sources said both state governments have offered inducements but Queensland's convention support budget has been deflated by recent exercises such as the Goodwill Games.

Next month, as it has for the past five years, Gartner will kick off its conference in Brisbane's massive Southbank Convention Centre.

Delegate figures so far are defying downward trends in both the general meetings industry and the IT conference market.

At last count, 759 conference delegates had registered compared to 686 at the same time last year. Some 36 per cent are non-Gartner clients compared with 24 per cent last year.

That significant jump suggests uncertain industry conditions are creating a wider audience for market analysis services.

In contrast to the Gartner event, a number of IT conferences have been scaled back or dropped recently.

Latest casualty is the Canberra convention planned for the end of August by industry association Software Engineering Australia. The association's national CEO Susan Dart, said the conference was called off because of poor sponsorship and registration figures.

"We are deferring it until we see an upturn in the industry. The economy is in dismal state and there are too many conferences around."

In the general meetings and events industry, attendance figures might be down as much as 30 to 50 per cent this year.

Sydney and Melbourne have been affected more than Queensland, according to Meetings Industry Association of Australia CEO Jenny Lambert.

In terms of IT-specific events Australian Computer Society national marketing manager Simon Kwan said a 30 per cent decrease is not an unreasonable estimate.

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