The Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston, along with the CSIRO, is preparing to host the 2020 Asian Wave and Tidal (AWTEC) Conference, which will be held for the first time outside Asia. AMC’s Associate Professor Irene Penesis was instrumental in the submission to host the event and, as an ambassador for Business Events Tasmania; she’s the first to spruik Tasmania to her global industry connections.

Dr Penesis is a world-leader in ocean renewable energy research and an Associate Professor at AMC, a specialist institute of the University of Tasmania (UTAS). Before she moved to Launceston, from Melbourne, to take up a mathematics lecturing/research role at AMC, 15 years ago, she’d never stepped foot on Tasmanian soil.

“I was struck on my first trip to the state’s east coast at just how breathtakingly beautiful and natural, almost protected, the island was, and still is.”

“It was the sheer energy of the waves, the current of the rivers and the dramatic coastlines that grabbed me,” she said.

“I am definitely converted and cannot speak highly enough of Tasmania to just about everyone I meet nationally and internationally. Launceston is a small city and that is part of its appeal. It’s also a short flight to the east coast cities and to access the rest of the world. The waterfront has been developed but the city remains mostly unchanged and tends to have a mini-university feel about it.”

The 5th series of AWTEC will attract more than 300 delegates from around the world. The event will provide AMC the opportunity to showcase its internationally recognised research facilities and expose delegates to all that Tasmania has to offer, including its premium food and wine.

“We have some of the best agricultural produce and our seafood comes from the cleanest waters in the world,” Dr Penesis declares.

Business Events Tasmania supported the application to bring AWTEC 2020 to Tasmania, providing promotional material and advice on conference facilities, and visitor attractions and services.

It is not uncommon for AMC to host marine and maritime-related international conferences in Launceston. Between 2012 – 2015, AMC hosted five major national or international conferences, including the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference and the Annual General Assembly and Conference of the International Association Maritime Universities.

Launceston has a strong maritime history. Founded as a colonial settlement, in the 1850s it was well established as a port exporting predominantly wool and cereals to the mainland colonies. Today, the waterfront retains a small commercial shipping presence, but has undergone major riverside development in recent years. With new hotels and restaurants on the banks of the Tamar River, and the attraction of the Cataract Gorge, it is now best regarded as a visitor destination and a short walk from the city centre.

“Launceston can offer conferences something that bigger cities can’t – a feeling that the conference and the city are intimately bound. Delegates can ‘take over the town’ and network, relax and socialise in close proximity to each other,” Dr Penesis said.