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Astounding tourism performance places one state ahead

April 1, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia’s 2018 tourism figures show one major state soaring ahead of the rest, with international visitation growing much faster than the national average and easily surpassing Queensland and New South Wales.

The winner is Victoria, which is celebrating a record year that saw it welcome more international visitors than ever before.

Tasmania also performed well, with visitor numbers rising by an impressive +11% and visitor spending climbing by +13% – but when it comes to the heavyweights, those states receiving millions of visitors annually rather than hundreds of thousands, Victoria stands out.

International visitors to Victoria spent an unprecedented AUD 8.5 billion in 2018, up 12.9% on the previous year. Victoria well exceeded the national growth rate for spend (+8%) and key competitor New South Wales (+4.3%).

Data from Tourism Research Australia shows Victoria welcomed 3 million international visitors who stayed a combined 72.9 million nights in the state.

Victoria experienced year-on-year growth in international visitors to reach 3 million (+5.4%), above the national average growth rate (+4.8%) and key competitors New South Wales (+3%) and Queensland (+2.3%).

Melbourne experienced strong double-digit growth in international spend (+13%), outperforming the national capital cities average (+9%) and more than double the growth rate of Sydney (+4.9%), although behind strong performances from Brisbane (+21.2%) and the Gold Coast (+17.9%), which were boosted in this period by strong growth from China.

International visitation to Geelong leapt by 12%. Aerial perspective of Geelong shows the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in the foreground

The growth wasn’t limited to Melbourne, with 565,000 international tourists staying overnight in regional Victoria, well above the national regional average.

Geelong was one of the strongest performers with international visitors up 12% on the previous year.

The increase in tourism spending was largely driven by visitors from across Asia, with expenditure by visitors from India, China, Indonesia and Taiwan showing strong growth.

Victoria’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, said the state was “a truly world class destination for international visitors and this strong growth shows what a popular destination our state is for travellers from across the globe.

“With so many natural wonders, food and wine options, major events and cultural attractions it’s little wonder the figures released show how strong tourism is in Victoria.”

The figures indicate Victoria is well on-track to reach its goal of growing the state’s total overseas and domestic visitor expenditure to AUD 36.5 billion by 2025. The visitor economy is one of the key contributors to the Victorian economy and employs around 215,000 Victorians annually.

Karen Bolinger is stepping down as chief executive of Melbourne Convention Bureau

On the eve of the announcement, however, one of Victoria’s most respected and top-performing tourism identities, Karen Bolinger, chief executive of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) announced she is stepping down this week after seven and a half years in the role.

MCB board chair, Chris Barlow, confirmed Bolinger would finish this Friday, 5 April 2019, to take some well-deserved time off before exploring other opportunities.

“Under Karen’s guidance the MCB team has delivered the most successful years on record, and with the support of Visit Victoria, the 18/19 period is expected to deliver its highest ever economic contribution to Victoria of almost AUD 500 million,” Barlow said.

“Karen and her team have led the repositioning of Melbourne’s profile as an innovative business events destination by highlighting the city’s intellectual capacity and knowledge sectors. This highlighted the business events sector as a key economic driver into the local economy, garnering ongoing support from State and Local Government.

“Building on this approach, under Karen’s leadership the MCB developed the ‘Team Melbourne’ philosophy, driving the amalgamation of the academic and research sectors with the tourism sector to collaborate when bidding for conferences for Victoria. ‘Team Melbourne’ has now evolved to city-wide collaboration across government, universities, research institutes, hotels, function venues and attractions, working together to secure business events for the state.”

Barlow also mentioned that “Karen has also suffered a significant personal loss over the last couple of years which she has worked tirelessly through, and she has decided that the time has come to stop and take some time out for self-care.

“The MCB Board wish to respect and support her decision as she leaves MCB to take some time out and consider her next steps.”

Bolinger led the transition for MCB to become part of Visit Victoria (VV). Her contribution to the sector globally was recognised when she was awarded the 2018 Joint Meetings Industry Council Unity Award, which recognises individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the business events industry.

Bolinger has been a familiar face each year at the annual Asia Pacific Incentives Meetings Event – AIME – a leading trade show for the meetings and business events industry. This year’s AIME finished a couple of weeks ago. We have covered it extensively in previous years.

Written by Peter Needham

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