Industry groups are hailing the decision by the Victorian Government to give the go-ahead to the long awaited AUD 190 million expansion of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC). The government will also provide an extra AUD 80 million to secure major events in metropolitan and regional Victoria.
The measures, part of the 2015-16 state budget, were welcomed by Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA), which said the moves would ensure Victoria remained a premier events destination.
R&CA chief executive John Hart said the funding would boost industry confidence and show that the legacy of business and major events development would continue under the Andrews Government. Hart also suggest some of the funds be spent on food and wine tourism.
“Business and major events drive visitation and economic activity in Victoria,” Hart said.
“Improved infrastructure and increased funding for the state’s major events calendar will create jobs and support the growth of small tourism and hospitality businesses in regional and metropolitan Victoria.
“Business events visitors are high yielding travellers that inject significant expenditure into the local economy. Restaurants and cafes will be huge benefactors of the expansion of MCEC.
“The restaurant and catering industry is the largest employer across all tourism-related industries, employing 136,500 Victorians in small businesses across the state. Tourism and event promotion is essential to drive tourism demand and patronage of these businesses.
“Today’s announcements demonstrate the Andrews Government is willing to invest in the building blocks of the future – and that future is in the visitor economy.”
Hart said that while the additional AUD 80 million in event funding was welcome, it must be targeted at events likely to deliver the greatest return on investment.
“We know food and wine events are the most popular regional events for domestic travellers, with 9% of visitors attending food and wine events across Australia. This visitation rate is higher than the visitation rate recorded for music events, art exhibitions, or sporting events.
“The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is a staple on the major events calendar and must continue to be supported if the state is to achieve its target of doubling overnight visitor expenditure to AUD 24.7 billion by 2020.
“We know that for every dollar spent in the tourism and hospitality industry, a further 90 cents is generated elsewhere in the economy. It makes good economic sense to support this sector through infrastructure development and major event funding,” Hart said.
Edited by Peter Needham