The accommodation industry approached the Toowoomba mayor in 2003 with $30,000 seed funding that was matched by council to capture the missed opportunity of business tourism.
The venue and accommodation industry identified that attracting groups was an effective way of filling the 80 function rooms and 2,000 available beds in the region. They saw the success of other regions attracting groups and events through their conference bureaus.
Industry specified that the funded role sit outside of the council and the Regional Tourism Organisation to work collaboratively with tourism, economic development and business stakeholders. As a semi-commercial entity the conference bureau has to move quickly to harness emerging opportunities.
Initially research was undertaken into the region’s capability for holding business events.
In 2006, Janet Kieseker was approached to move from the board of the regional tourist organisation to establish the conference bureau, Toowoomba Conferences.
Since then, Janet established the business tourism industry in the Toowoomba Region through the management of Toowoomba Conferences. The role encompasses industry capacity building, marketing and research.
The result is a nine percent increase in business visitation since 2012 providing a $200 million economic boost to the region in 2017. The economic value of business visitors is well documented by the state’s peak tourism body Tourism Events Queensland – they stay longer than leisure (holiday and VFR) sectors and spend more money, making them an key sector to attract.