7 September 2004
Cancellation of HoverWorld Expo 2004
With great regret, the World Hovercraft Organization announces that the National Capital Authority in Canberra has recently declined the opportunity to stage HoverWorld Expo 2004.
Despite the wholehearted best efforts of the World Hovercraft Organization, the Australian Hovercraft Federation, and the entire HoverWorld Expo organizing team, the National Capital Authority in Canberra has "withdrawn its support for the HoverWorld Expo 2004 event on LakeBurleyGriffin." In addition, Australian Capital Tourism states that the tourism benefits of HoverWorld Expo 2004 would not be significant enough for it to receive support through their Events Assistance Program.
Chris Fitzgerald, Chairman of the World Hovercraft Organization, and Ken Osmond, President of the Australian Hovercraft Federation, state to those who had planned to attend the event, "After four years of planning and a massive investment of man-hours and funds, we certainly share in your disappointment. As Australian citizens, we are sincerely aggrieved at the loss of this opportunity for Canberra and all Australians to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a genuine historic first: the World's First Hovercraft Race, staged in Canberra in 1964.
Many nations will share this disappointment. Groups from throughout the world have registered to attend HoverWorld Expo 2004, including teams from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Sweden, Nigeria, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Although Canberra officials were initially responsive to bringing HoverWorld Expo to their city, and provided much assistance in the planning process, the extensive regulatory process in Canberra ultimately proved to be insurmountable and cost-prohibitive for the not-for-profit Australian Hovercraft Federation and the World Hovercraft Organization.
Fitzgerald cites the regulatory process in Canberra as a contributing factor, saying, " As disheartening as it may be to all of us that the event has been canceled, it is perhaps the best alternative, given that the enormous number of ever-increasing regulations with which we were expected to comply would, at best, severely limit the scope of activities offered to participants and, at worst, subject HoverWorld Expo 2004 to being closed at any time during the event."