AIME 2009, the 17th Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo, unfolded this week in Melbourne, Australia while the region’s devastating bush fires still raged in more remote areas of the state of Victoria. The expo, which took place on February 17 and 18, was unaffected by the fires, according to its organizers, Reed Travel Exhibitions. The death toll from Australia's deadly wildfires had reached 200 by Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“Fires are over an hour away from the central business district. There are no interruptions to transport links to Melbourne. Melbourne Airport is fully operational and airline services in and out of Melbourne have not been impacted,” according to AIME’s Web site. The event also calls for numerous pre- and post tours for hosted buyers and media attending the expo. The Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau was closely monitoring the bush fire situation, and was moving ahead with tours as planned.

MCVB, Regional Victoria Conference Group, and Reed Travel Exhibitions are coordinating an AIME Bush Fire Appeal. Money was being collected at the Expo and will be donated to the Red Cross fire appeal.

The raging bush fires completely destroyed two conference centers, The Cumberland Marysville and the Marysville Country House, located in the Yarra Valley northeast of Melbourne. For more about the International Association of Conference Centers’ efforts to rally around those who lost everything, read this story.

For updates on the region’s fires, go to Visit Victoria’s web site.