Australians love a winner and we don’t mind watching them either as is presently evident with the huge crowds attending the AFC Asian Cup games currently being played around the country.
At the fourth day of the Australia v India Test in Sydney earlier this month courtesy of SCG Events’ Susan le Roux I was surprised – and delighted – to see an Indian family sitting by themselves in one of the corporate boxes. Had they hired the box for the day? The week?
Sporting events like the AFC Asian Cup, like the upcoming 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, and like the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne are not only great spectacles but a boon for the events sector.
As Tourism Australia chief John O’Sullivan said recently, Australia’s hosting of the AFC Asian Cup provides a fantastic opportunity to reinforce the country’s international reputation as a top class, welcoming host for major events and also as a highly desirable destination.
“This 23 day ‘festival of football’ provides the perfect platform for Australia to showcase our credentials as a great place to visit amongst some of our most important overseas markets,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“With more than 500,000 spectators – including around 30,000 fans from overseas – expected to attend the 32 matches being played across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle, this is a tourism free kick. Thousands of international football fans will have ample opportunity to explore our five host cities and their surrounding tourism regions. Australia is a nation of warm and welcoming sports fans. No matter which city fans base themselves in, there will be an array of activities and experiences available to explore,” he said.
CEO of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Local Organising Committee, Michael Brown, said aside from promoting soccer and sport in general the aims were for the tournament to open doors for business, to open doors for tourism and trade and investment, and to create new community connections.
“Seven of our top 10 trading partners are in the AFC region. The fact that Federal and State Governments have invested heavily in the Asian Cup shows that they understand and are committed to using the opportunities football presents,” Mr Brown said.
Part of that commitment has been from the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), whose aims are to advance Australia’s international trade, investment, education and tourism interests.
In 2014 Austrade established Match Australia, an international sports business program created to connect Australian businesses with global partners through major sporting events like the Asian Cup.
“Match Australia is using the Asian Cup as a platform to further promote Australian capabilities across international markets especially Asia,” Mr Brown said.
“Austrade is encouraging high level government and business delegations to visit Australia during the AFC Asian Cup to meet with Australian companies to do business and network.”
The Federal Government is also undertaking a series of business events around the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29.
Australia will host 26 of the 49 matches with the final being held at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
At the Match Australia launch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in October, Federal Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, said the ICC Cricket World Cup would enhance business ties with participants from countries such as India, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and West Indies.
“The tournament will be the biggest sporting event in the world in 2015, engaging one-fifth of the world’s population and attracting a television audience of more than one billion people. It presents a wonderful opportunity to develop people-to-people linkages and to show visitors that Australia is both open for business and provides a strong, stable environment for international investment,” Mr Robb said.