MCEC plays host to Victoria’s biggest business conference in over 12 months

More than 900 tourism operators descended on Melbourne last week as part of the biggest business conference in Victoria in more than a year.

The Victorian Tourism Conference, delivered by Visit Victoria in partnership with the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, took place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) over two days under the theme of ‘Shaping the future of Victorian tourism’.

Speakers included Martin Pakula (Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events), Brendan McClements (CEO of Visit Victoria), Craig Tiley (CEO of Tennis Australia), Sam Bloom (author of Heartache & Birdsong) and Lisa MacCallum (former vice president of Nike).

Phillipa Harrison (managing director of Tourism Australia), Shane Delia (chef, restaurateur and founder of Providoor), Jason Marriner (CEO of Marriner Group) and Sarah Hunter (chief economist for BIS, Oxford Economics) also shared their insights with attendees.

The conference follows a challenging year for the tourism industry, with the estimated impact on visitor expenditure in Victoria from COVID-19 and the bushfires for 2020 at $19.5 billion – a 60 per cent decline.

In 2021, the sector is showing positive signs of recovery with the return of crowds and major events such as the Australian Open, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Melbourne Fashion Festival, the Comedy Festival, and theatre productions such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Visitation levels in regional Victoria are improving, evidenced by a bumper Easter long weekend, and the Melbourne Convention Bureau will administer a new funding grant program to attract new national conferences and events to the city.

The state’s four-year Visitor Economy Recovery and Reform plan was launched at the Victorian Tourism Conference, with the event itself a significant milestone as the largest gathering hosted at the MCEC since the pandemic.

As part of the conference, Visit Victoria shared key marketing and consumer insights after launching several major campaigns and initiatives during the pandemic, including ‘Click for Vic’, ‘Stay close, go further’ and ‘Visit Melbourne’.

Featured image source: Twitter/Visit Victoria