Glebe Island exhibition centre gets mixed reviews after Reef Gift Fair
The new exhibition centre at Glebe Island. Photo: Anthony JohnsonAs the doors closed on the first event at Sydney’s temporary exhibition centre at Glebe Island, the press release declared it a “unanimous” success.
But that really depends on who you talk to.
As the rain poured down and hundreds of people spilled out of the final day of the Reed Gift Fair on Wednesday, many said transport issues marred what was also the first test for Darling Harbour’s replacement.
While some praised the ferries, others told Fairfax Media that visitors waited 90 minutes for a bus. Another questioned the $35 fee for outdoor parking. And at least one exhibitor, Chris Caiacob, of importer Bridging Waters, has vowed not to return for the next trade fair in September.
“We just haven’t had the best feedback from people trying to get here,” Mr Caiacob said, who was also critical of the quality of food.
“We had people coming in and saying ‘listen, we’re going back to Darling Harbour to have lunch because we can’t eat here, then we’ll come back. It’s losing two hours of our day.”‘
Glebe Island will host up to 120 events during the three years it will take to build the billion-dollar facilities replacing the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Reed Gift Fair is Sydney’s first trade fair of 2014 and it will count among the interim venue’s biggest.
Reed Exhibitions Australia managing director Debbie Evans said she was pleased with the new site.
Teething issues – such as the scheduling of buses and ferries – were not unexpected, she said, “but we jumped onto them really quickly”.
“The feedback we got from Tuesday onwards was really very positive,” Ms Evans said.
Exhibitor Jim Menck, of wholesaler Cawsey Menck, said “we’ve had a very positive show”, praising the venue’s natural light and wide aisles.
“The downside’s transport. The transport is a nightmare.
“Everyone was waiting too long. Customers were waiting an hour-and-a-half, no buses turning up.”
Mr Menck said the state government was responsible for the issues and should be made aware of the problems.
“I believe it can be corrected,” he said. “We’ve got no choice anyway. They knocked the other joint down so we had to come.”
But acting premier Andrew Stoner said measures had been put in place to ensure events at the “impressive venue” ran smoothly.
“So far we have received positive feedback from the industry, visitors and exhibitors about the temporary facility, with the first event held over the weekend, Reed Gift Fairs, welcomed as a great success,” he said.
Adrian Slingsby, from venue manager AEG Ogden, said exhibitors had “overwhelmingly been positive”.
“We have had many, many positive comments about the public transport arrangements, which included free buses from Central station and Darling Harbour and ferry transport from Circular Quay and Darling Harbour,” he said.
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