At the beginning of June, Tasmania hosted the first 2019 Cider Australia Annual Conference – AusCider 2019. Current President of Cider Australia; Sam Reid (Co-owner of Willie Smith’s) was the leading force behind the inaugural conference coming to Tasmania.
A series of events were held around Hobart and Launceston from June 2-5, with the official conference bring held 3-4 and June. The conference’s keynote speaker Jane Peyton, is an internationally respected drinks educator, culinary and travel writer and the UK’s first accredited ‘Pommelier’. During her visit Jane visited several local cideries and met with fermentation researchers.
95 delegates attended AusCider 2019 including local and interstate cider producers, growers, researchers, cider industry suppliers, government representatives (Commonwealth, NSW and WA) and potential investors.
Cider Australia has said that, “Holding the conference in Tasmania was an overwhelming success. Significant networking took place between cider producers, suppliers, government representatives and the emerging cider/fermentation research community.”
The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture was able to engage directly with over 50 cider producers including to survey all attendees on research questions/priorities, providing important guidance on the future work program of the Australian Cider Research and Development (ACRAD) Program. Researchers from TAS, SA, NSW and WA attended enabling forward planning of the research agenda. Within two weeks of the conference, Western Australian apples had been sent to University of Tasmania PhD student Madeleine Way for her trial. The University was also able to promote its new cider making short course to delegates.
The Launceston tour successfully increased awareness of yeast stress management which will assist cider makers improve the quality of their products. This tour had 25 participants, including 20 from interstate, some of whom stayed overnight in northern Tasmania.
Some key insights from pre/post-event surveys of attendees include:
- 62% reported never attending a previous conference held in Batlow, NSW. Moving the event to Tasmania opened up the event to a much wider audience as intended.
- 42% combined attending the conference with other business and personal travel (15% business and 27% personal) which had benefits for tourism in Tasmania.
- A number of attendees also attended the annual conference of Fruit Growers Tasmania.
- An average attendee rating for AusCider 2019 of 4.5/5 based on an assessment of location, topics, speakers, networking opportunities and tours.
These outcomes highlight the significant impact that business events have on the knowledge economy and the opportunities that exist for business, researchers and research institutes when a conference is held in our state. Opportunities that would not have been available if the conference was held elsewhere.