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Governments should get out of the way of convention bureaux, says minister

New South Wales tourism minister Stuart Ayres received an enthusiastic reception at the IMEX Politicians Forum

Pictured: Stuart Ayres

Politicians and governments should get out of the way of convention bureaux and set them free to succeed, according to one Australian politician. 

The New South Wales minister for trade, tourism and major events, Stuart Ayres, brought an enthusiastic round of applause from his audience at the IMEX Politicians Forum in Frankfurt with his forthright presentation, which included criticism of his own profession.

He said: “We should set them free and let them go out with strong commercial terms, a private sector board and be prepared to take the risk to let them do what they are good at. 

"Governments sometimes move too slowly to engage with buyers and trends in the market. I often think a measure of good government is to stay out of people's way so they can embrace opportunities without the burden of cumbersome governance structures. They can be ultra-lean without the burden of bureaucracy but with the freedom to be ultra-competitive and nimble.”

He added that good partnerships are imperative for success. 

“As we have seen evidenced by disruption, collaboration is the new form of competitiveness," he said. "This is where David and Goliath no longer battle it out but form a business coalition that can take on top tier cities and the advantages of entire regions.”

He also said he was optimistic for the future of the events industry because of its ability to deliver free trade.

“A decade ago, futurists were predicting the death of the meetings industry at the hands of technological advancements. Having led numerous international trade missions, I’d say the opposite has happened. Face-to-face interaction can fast track a result or land an entirely different outcome altogether. 

“The technology facilitated processes like email, Skype or conference calls are effective at targeting the issue they are set up for – but they don't create the best environment for unexpected opportunities and creative outcomes that happen when like-minded professionals come together face to face.Technology – connectivity – is enabling faster exchanges. At the same time access is an important opportunity generator.

“If connectivity is one of the top assets of the 21st century, then talent would have to be high up on that list too. Business events play a key role in driving the free trade mentality by their very nature. Their capacity to take events around the world and build networks is at the base level of what all trade opportunities are.

“Having hundreds or thousands of the top professionals in a specialist area engage on movements and products for change that can have global implications has to be one of the greatest vehicles for free trade anywhere in the world.”

More than 30 countries were represented at the 14th IMEX Politicians Forum, which attracted meeting professionals and political figures from around the world and was chaired by Michael Hirst, chairman of the UK Business Visits and Events Partnership.

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