When the CEO of Destination NSW called just after 9am last Thursday with an invitation to bid for the opening event of the 2021 World Surf League's 2021 Championship Tour, it was as much a challenge as it was an opportunity.
And so commenced what was a manic six hours of phone calls, visitation forecasting, questions regarding COVID-safe protocols, conversations with tour organisers, and of course financial considerations.
By 2.58pm, a bid had been emailed to Destination NSW for Merewether to play host to the world's top 52 male and female surfers.
While it would be another 24 hours before World Surf League had made its choice, I felt confident that the years of strategic positioning of Newcastle as an exciting destination for major events, combined with the recruitment of an events team capable of putting together winning bids, was going to pay off.
We can take pride in Newcastle's burgeoning events and tourism economy as a drawcard destination, having played host to major events that have well and truly put the city on the map, including the Wallabies and All Blacks, the Matildas, Supercars, the SAANZAR Rugby Championship, and the Wallaroos
Today, we can take pride in Newcastle's burgeoning events and tourism economy as a drawcard destination, having played host to major events that have well and truly put the city on the map, including the Wallabies and All Blacks, the Matildas, Supercars, the SAANZAR Rugby Championship, and the Wallaroos Women's Rugby team.
Our increasing success in bidding for these events is testament to the world-class facilities and amenity our city has to offer and is indicative of a maturing, sophisticated economy.
Long-term relationships with NSW government agencies Venues NSW and Destination NSW have been built via City of Newcastle staff proving themselves reliable and hardworking partners.
It's also why World Surf League organisers felt confident that Newcastle could deliver its massive event in just eight weeks' from now.
Set to showcase Merewether Beach and Newcastle more broadly to a global audience of more than 10 million people, the COVID-safe World Surf League event will bring an influx of homegrown and international competitors, media representatives, event officials and fans to our city throughout April, building on the long-standing history and success of Surfest.
The economic benefits are substantial, with the event tipped to inject an estimated $15 million into the local economy, providing positive flow-on effects to businesses impacted by COVID-19.
This huge coup reflects how far our city has come in its ability to attract and curate major events, one of my visions for the city when I was first elected as lord mayor.
Complementing the exponential growth in our $1.127 billion visitor economy, is the construction of the city's first five-star hotels in The Kingsley; the spectacular redevelopment of the former council headquarters building, and Iris Capital's loving transformation of the former David Jones building as QT Hotel Newcastle.
But it's not just sporting events attracting visitors to the City of Newcastle.
The city is a nursery for creative artists, producing professional talent that is celebrated and revered.
IN THE NEWS:
- City of Newcastle confirms planning certificates to include support for live music venues
- Jets vow to give coach Craig Deans tools for instant success
- NSW government approves exploration licence to find suitable offshore sand for Stockton beach
- Newcastle-trained doctor wins appeal to overturn medical licence suspension
City of Newcastle is excited to launch the inaugural New Annual festival, a 10-day, city-wide arts and cultural smorgasbord featuring more than 50 free and ticketed events including dance, live music, art displays, exhibitions, presentations, talks and activations.
City of Newcastle has invested $1 million in the flagship cultural event, which will become a mainstay on the Newcastle event calendar, in recognition of the critical role of the arts in our community.
Our cultural facilities also play a major role in nurturing local talent and curating events, acquiring acclaimed exhibitions such as the Nikon-Walkley Press Photography currently on display at Newcastle Library; WE CAN BE HEROES: a backstage pass at Newcastle Art Gallery; and Colour, developed by Questacon, at Newcastle Museum.
These major events and attractions elevate and promote Newcastle as a global city and not only put us on par with Australia's capital cities, but actually give us a unique point of difference.