Increase tourism funds or risk missing out, Victoria warned

Victoria should back a funding plan designed to boost tourism over the next four years or risk losing the hosting rights for major events, says a leading industry voice.

The Accommodation Association of Australia is pressing Victoria’s political leaders to throw their support behind an enhanced four-year funding proposal for Visit Victoria and the Melbourne Convention Bureau.

Association CEO Richard Munro said: “It would help ensure that bids to host major business events including meetings, conferences and conventions, made by the Melbourne Convention Bureau will be able to continue, instead of being put on hold because of uncertainty surrounding the resources of the bureau.

“As an integral part of tourism, the accommodation industry has experienced strong growth in recent years and a significant amount of this growth is directly because of visitors who have been travelling to Victoria for business, including for business events.

“Without wishing to downplay the important contribution that visitors travelling for leisure purposes make to the economy, delegates visiting Australia for business events spend, on average, 21 per cent more than other international visitors during their trip and 77 per cent more per day.

“The expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and the development of new hotels in Melbourne means there is a greater capacity to host more major business events in Victoria, but this is unlikely to happen without a new funding agreement for the Melbourne Convention Bureau.”

Tourism Research Australia data released this month shows Victoria’s tourism industry is growing faster than any other state’s and employing more people than ever before.

Major business events held in Victoria this month included the International Inner Wheel Convention at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and South Wharf Precinct from April 10 to 14, and the incentive reward travel program which was staged across Victoria by life insurance giant AIA from April 10 to 13.

Victoria’s acting minister for tourism and major events, Tim Pallas, said: “We’re creating more tourism jobs in Victoria than ever before, which is boosting local businesses across the state and our economy.

“Victoria has the fastest growing economy in the country, and it’s in no small part thanks to the hard work of our tourism operators. We’ll do everything we can to ensure this momentum continues.”  

CEO of Visit Victoria, Peter Bingeman said: “Visitation to Victoria is at an all-time high, but there’s still significant potential to further grow and strengthen our visitor economy which is what Visit Victoria is doing.

“We are continuing to secure business events, major events and supporting regional ones, as well as marketing the state to key intrastate, interstate and international markets.”    

Mr Munro stressed that it was not just accommodation houses which benefitted from the hosting of major events.

 “The entire tourism ecosystem, including convention centres, other venues where meetings are held, restaurants, hospitality venues and retail businesses, among others, receive additional income directly as a result of business events,” he said.

“Tourism businesses which generate more income will employ more staff.”

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