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Major Blockbuster Events in the ACT Report

Strategic Regional Research, ACT: Major Blockbuster Events in the ACT
Release: 2/08/2012

This study was undertaken to better understand the value of holding blockbuster exhibitions in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the potential for undertaking a major exhibition program.

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Key Findings


This study was commissioned by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) in partnership with Australian Capital Tourism to gain a better understanding of the value of blockbuster exhibitions in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the potential for undertaking a major exhibition program. The tourism industry currently contributes $1.3 billion to the ACT economy and is one of the territory’s largest private sector employers. Given tourism’s importance to the city as an economic driver, it is Australian Capital Tourism’s principal aim to increase the value of tourism to the ACT by stimulating visitation and growing visitor yield.


The success of established tourism events such as Floriade and recent blockbuster art exhibitions such as Masterpieces from Paris clearly demonstrate that events and exhibitions provide compelling reasons to visit the Canberra region. These exhibitions also play an important role in enhancing year-round use of the ACT’s venues and infrastructure, create stimulus for investment in event infrastructure development and services, and generate a range of new employment opportunities. The ACT Government’s investment in Masterpieces from Paris was ultimately offset by an influx of interstate and international visitors. Over a four-month period, the National Gallery of Australia estimated that the exhibition welcomed over 470,000 attendees (80% from interstate or overseas) and generated an economic impact of $95 million. To understand the value and potential of these major exhibitions in detail, Australian Capital Tourism partnered with TRA to conduct further research.


This research was undertaken in early 2012 to coincide with the Renaissance exhibition running at the National Gallery of Australia and the Handwritten: Ten centuries of manuscript treasures exhibition at the National Library of Australia. Tourism is a major industry for Queensland, directly contributing around 124,000 jobs annually. In the year ended June 2011, 8.7 million domestic leisure visitors and 662,000 international leisure visitors toured Queensland destinations by road. These self-drive visitors make a significant contribution to many of Queensland’s regional economies. The objective of this research was to gain an understanding of both the profile of the Queensland Touring Group (who they are and where they come from) and their travel behaviour (where they stay and which tourism regions they visit). This study also considered the direct economic impact of this group to the Queensland economy in terms of visitor expenditure and employment generation.