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ICC Sydney delivers A$510M despite events lost to Covid-19

Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and entertainment venue reveals positive economic contribution under extraordinary circumstances in 2019/20 Annual Performance Review.

International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has today released its Annual Performance Review revealing delegates attending events at the venue generated $510 million in direct expenditure for New South Wales (NSW), despite the economic fallout from Covid-19 on the 2019/20 financial operating year.

The report shows a year in two parts, with Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and entertainment venue initially on track for another strong economic and operational year in 2019/20. This was cut short by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with resultant gathering and travel restrictions shutting down all in person events at the venue from mid-March onward.

In the first eight months of 2019/20, ICC Sydney generated A$510 million in delegate expenditure for the State and created 2,806 local jobs, demonstrating the ongoing value of the $1.5 billion development to the local economy and jobs. This was however down by A$386 million from FY2018/19 due to four months of lost operations. In 2018/19, 12 months of events generated A$896 million in delegate expenditure and 5,790 jobs¹.

Of the A$510 million in expenditure generated in 2019/20, 73% (A$375 million) came from 70,593 international visitors, who also contributed to 981,445 overnight stays in Sydney. This in turn drove continued investment in local hotel refurbishment and development, but was significantly down on 1.77 million overnight stays in the previous year due to gathering and travel restrictions preventing events from mid-March.

The Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, said: “With our State and national travel, tourism and events sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, ICC Sydney has contributed positively to the NSW economy by continuing to create jobs and give back to our community. Its reputation as Australia’s undisputed number one hub for conferences, entertainment and exhibitions remains intact.

“In FY2019/20, ICC Sydney events generated $510 million in direct expenditure to NSW and created nearly 3,000 local jobs. Attracting investment and keeping people employed are the key drivers to our economic recovery and ICC Sydney is doing just that."

ICC Sydney also continued to deliver on its social, environmental and economic commitments to the local community in 2019/20. The venue committed to purchasing 100% NSW wines, supported 135 regional or NSW suppliers, won the global exhibition industry Sustainable Development Award and was named the KARI Foundation Partner of the Year. It also launched initiatives with clients through a world leading Legacy and CSR program.

ICC Sydney was one of the first convention centres globally to rapidly respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by developing an industry leading set of protocols – ICC Sydney’s EventSafe Operating Framework – to enable and expedite the safe operating and return of events.

In response to Covid-19 and resultant restrictions, ICC Sydney quickly innovated to launch virtual event solutions for clients and used the venue and team to support local community during the pandemic. Between March and 30 June 2020, the venue delivered 55 virtual events, including pro bono events for government agencies, industry associations and charities. ICC Sydney also provided its facilities to NSW emergency services for parking and the military utilised the venue’s expansive space for training.

Minister Stokes continued: “As we look towards recovery from a devastating year, I am confident that ICC Sydney will play a pivotal role in the future success of NSW and Sydney’s continued success as a vibrant and culturally rich destination”.

Bringing in a dynamic mix of events and visitors to Sydney and Australia, in 2019/20 ICC Sydney delivered 487 core events, including 18 major international events, 96 national conventions and 41 exhibition events, prior to the pandemic. This included 70,593 international and 195,273 interstate visitors attending globally acclaimed events, such as the inaugural Million Dollar Round Table Global Conference, PACIFIC 2019 Maritime International Exposition and Robocup2019, all firmly putting Sydney on the international stage.

Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney, said: “In just over three years of operation, ICC Sydney has generated over A$2 billion in delegate expenditure for the State economy. We have hosted around 3.5 million visitors, who have created 4 million overnight stays in Sydney. We have directly supported more than 135 regional or NSW farmers, winemakers and other primary producers.

“On top of this, our world leading Legacy Program delivers enormous benefits and opportunities to Sydney’s creative industries, First Nations businesses, start up and student communities. We also continue to build Sydney’s reputation as a smart, world class city.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our operations and output in what was set to be another extraordinarily strong year, our Annual Performance Review is an important reminder of the enormous cultural, social and economic value of ICC Sydney. I am confident that both ICC Sydney and the wider business events industry will play an important role in Sydney’s and Australia’s recovery from this crisis”.

ICC Sydney is open and currently running virtual and hybrid events, as well as a range of in person events at the venue, in line with current regulations.

To view the ICC Sydney Annual Performance Report 2019/20 visit here and to find out more about ICC Sydney, visit


¹ Estimate based on like-for-like comparison of delegate expenditure in FY2018/19 (A$896m) and FY2019/20 (A$510m).


Image caption: ICC Sydney releases Annual Performance Review for 2019/2020.