2023 Brisbane in Review:
Wrap of the biggest, brightest Brisbane news this year

20 DECEMBER 2023

‘Tis the season to be jolly and we certainly have a lot to celebrate as we look back on some of the biggest and best achievements for BEDA and Brisbane in 2023.

Accolades on the world stage

In 2023, our dynamic city continued to set the pace, cementing Brisbane’s global reputation as a world-class destination for business and leisure.

In the past 12 months alone, Brisbane was:   

  • Named in TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places 2023
  • Earned the title of Australia’s sporting capital   
  • Included in Frommer’s list of the Best Places to Go in 2024 
  • Recognised as home to Australia’s number one restaurant – Agnes, number one hotel The Calile Hotel (also named as one of the top 50 hotels in the world), and number one university in The University of Queensland
  • Ranked by Corporate Traveller as the number one Australian destination of choice for international small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) traveling to Australia, knocking Sydney off the top.

Collaborating on the green and gold runway

This year BEDA formed the Better Brisbane Alliance, a powerful industry partnership bringing together 24 of Brisbane’s most influential business leaders to help supercharge the growth of the city’s economy in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With plenty in the works, we launched the first ground-breaking initiative of the Alliance, MoreTix.

Enticing visitors to stay longer and experience more, the platform promotes a huge range of curated Brisbane events and experiences to people booking tickets at five of Brisbane’s largest event venues – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Suncorp Stadium, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane Powerhouse and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

MoreTix will encourage visitors to explore more of our incredible tourism and events experiences, boosting Brisbane’s visitor economy and increasing expenditure and economic outcomes for the whole region. 

Brisbane’s blockbuster major events calendar 

An incredible line-up of major sporting and cultural events also drove visitation, bolstering Brisbane’s reputation as a world class events destination. 

BEDA supported the delivery of over 35 events that generated more than $200 million in economic activity and attracted over 200,000 out-of-region visitors.

Some of this year’s most unforgettable moments included:   

  • The FIFA Women’s World Cup – Brisbane’s biggest international sporting event in 40 years lit up the city.  
  • International tennis returned to Brisbane with the Pat Rafter Arena hosting the United Cup, and Brisbane International set to return on 31 December, with nine grand slam stars taking to the court for seven days of action.
  • A record- breaking NRL Magic Round Brisbane, smashed attendance numbers.  
  • The Tour de Brisbane and Brisbane Cycling Festival grew to new levels.  
  • Internationally acclaimed Chiharu Sota at GOMA and back-to-back seasons of Agatha Christie’s MouseTrap at QPAC featured on Brisbane’s riveting cultural calendar.  
  • Another incredible Australian PGA Championship.   

Bringing business events to Brisbane

Together with our Brisbane city stakeholders, BEDA boosted Brisbane’s visitor economy with some big business events for the city – securing 85 new business events, worth over $95 million and delivering over 160,000 delegate days, for events between 2023 and 2026.  

In addition to the events secured for the future, BEDA also supported the delivery of 106 business events this year. Highlights included: 

  • The Heavy Vehicle Industry ‘Brisbane Truck Show’ transformed South Bank and the BCEC 
  • The International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science attracted over 4,000 of the world’s brightest minds to Brisbane.
  • The International Pharmaceutical Federation World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences returned to Australia for the first time in over 20 years, attracting 2,000 delegates to Brisbane. 
  • World Mining Congress 2023 was held in Australia for the first time in the event’s history, attracting 2,600 delegates to Brisbane. 

Another great moment for Brisbane was securing one of the largest international incentive groups in the city’s history with 2,000 delegates from Cathay Life Insurance in Taiwan coming to Brisbane in May 2024, expected to inject $12.6 million to the local economy.

Promoting Brisbane as an ideal global events destination, BEDA attended national and international trade shows including AIME, IMEX Frankfurt, IMEX America and Dreamtime, to name a few.  

BEDA also hosted the annual events industry showcase, Brisbane Pop-Up, bringing 68 of the city’s accommodation, venues, catering and service suppliers, with close to 200 event planners for a day of networking and knowledge sharing.  

The latest round of the Lord Mayor’s Convention Trailblazer Grant was launched in October – a grant of up to $5,000 each for recipients to attend an international conference in their industry and work with BEDA to secure the event for the city in future years. 

Brisbane businesses honoured at Lord Mayor’s Business Awards 

Brisbane innovations in technology, sustainability and the arts were among leading local businesses recognised at the 2023 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards. 

Ten companies and two business leaders were awarded for their outstanding contributions to Brisbane’s economy and their impact in shaping the future of the city and communities around the world. Industries represented at the Awards including robotics, biosecurity, performing arts and the circular economy. 

Special mention is extended to Li Cunxin AO, Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, who was named The Courier-Mail Business Person of the Year, just a few months ahead of his retirement, for his outstanding work and dedication to transform Brisbane into a world-class performing arts destination. 

Discover all the amazing winners here.

Supporting Brisbane’s tourism industry

It’s been big year for Brisbane tourism and the domestic visitor economy has never been stronger – the city achieved record overnight visitor expenditure of 7.2 billion in the year ending September 2023. 

Throughout 2023, BEDA represented Brisbane at 12 tourism trade events in nine countries, meeting with over 1,000 distribution partners. These events include Australian Tourism Exchange, Australia Marketplace in-market events, Queensland is Calling in-market events, G'Day Australia, Cruise 360 and ATEC industry events. The aim of these events was to showcase Brisbane as great leisure destination to the world. 

BEDA also rolled up the sleeves, in collaboration with key partners, to enhance Brisbane region’s tourism experiences. BEDA assisted 158 businesses, across six tourism industry development programs, designed to drive business growth and help them develop spectacular visitor experiences. 

Among the highlights was the ‘Brisbane Welcomes You’ training pilot program that targeted 300 industry and volunteer participants in face-to-face workshops and up to 1,000 online program participants. Another high point was the Access Accelerator Program, enhancing tourism accessibility and making Brisbane an all-abilities destination of choice ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games – a key priority for the region.  

Other tourism industry development programs throughout the year included the Best of Brisbane Region Experience Program, Transformational Experiences Mentoring Program, Brisbane Concierge Training Program, and Tourism Trade Ready Program. 

Impactful campaigns enticing visitors to Brisbane 

BEDA delivered several destination and major event campaigns and activations, driving domestic visitation and local foot traffic into Brisbane city centre. 

National campaigns Here’s to Adventure, See you for summer and Summer’s Still Calling, were delivered, enticing sun seeking domestic travellers to holiday in Brisbane all year round. The campaigns generated AU$10.4 million in gross booking revenue and over 50,000 room nights for the Brisbane region. 

A new brand campaign Meet You At... The City launched in September, designed to drive visitation and spend to the city centre. The campaign harnessed the nostalgia of Brisbane City to position the precinct as a first-choice destination to shop, dine and play for residents and visitors alike. 

Meanwhile Dine BNE returned in 2023 for a record year, with exclusive menu offerings and special events in the city, encouraging locals and visitors to discover some of Brisbane city’s best restaurants and bars.

BEDA also launched new destination and investment websites designed to drive global awareness and demand for the city. 

Boosting Brisbane’s sustainability credentials 

Brisbane is working hard to become one of the most sustainable destinations in the world, with its ranking in the 2023 @Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-Movement), increasing by 4% from 2022 and making the index’s top 40. 

This year, Brisbane made history by becoming the first Australian city and the second city globally to be awarded Gold level in the United Nation Habitat’s Sustainable Development Goals Cities Global Initiative, and the city is also committed to hosting the first climate-positive Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

‘Build local to go global’ 

Pursuing the goal to ‘build local to go global’, BEDA continued to fast track the export readiness of local businesses that are designing, developing and manufacturing products for international markets via the Future Food Initiative Global Accelerator.

BEDA’s inaugural MedTech Initiative and Global Accelerator, designed to fast-track connections to international investors and strategic partners, culminated at J.P. Morgan Health Week in January.

The program’s first cohort had impressive outcomes with more than half securing new partnerships, investment and clients, at the Redefining Early Stage Investment Conference. Three companies were also recognised at the conferences’ Innovators Pitch Challenge, including Field Orthopaedics (Gold), Clinials (Silver) and Max Kelsen (Bronze).

Renowned Clinician-Entrepreneur Professor John Fraser joined the program as an official ambassador to spearhead Brisbane's global reputation for medical innovation. 

Attracting investment in priority sectors

BEDA’s success in attracting investment in key growth sectors resulted in millions in economic activity this year.

Set to bring economic investment, job creation, and supply chain capability to Brisbane, construction recently started on a new food distribution warehouse for Martin Brower ANZ, a leading global supply chain solutions provider for McDonald's restaurants. BEDA supported LOGOS Group and Martin Brower in identifying the optimal site location. The Martin Brower expansion reflects confidence in our city’s economic opportunities and logistical capabilities.

We also worked with a local Brisbane property and construction firm to facilitate two projects for Tesla. The new sites have enhanced Tesla’s supply chain for vehicles arriving in Queensland, functioning as the main customer fulfillment centre and a vehicle holding station.

Brisbane Business Hub celebrates third birthday

Brisbane’s business support and resource hub celebrated its third year in operation since it was first established in 2020 to support local businesses during the pandemic. 

More than 23,000 business leaders and entrepreneurs have visited the Brisbane Business Hub (BBH) during that time, representing an estimated 12,950 businesses, to take advantage of the complimentary workshops and events, co-working spaces, and mentoring program. 

BBH has facilitated 370 workshops and events, 445 one-on-one mentoring sessions, and more than 12,100 coworking space drop-ins since its opening and has grown an online community of more than 60,000. 

The Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant returned for a second year too, empowering more than 50 local business owners to accelerate their business growth with a share of $250,000. 

Brisbane City