The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), the peak industry body for Victoria’s tourism and events sector, described the looming loss of the Grand Final as an enormous blow to the state’s visitor economy, but just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the broad decimation of Victoria’s $5.9 billion events industry.
VTIC CEO Felicia Mariani said the decision to move the Grand Final would have a ripple effect across hotels, attractions, restaurants and experiences of every kind, and highlighted the broader challenges facing the state’s once-thriving events sector.
“Last year 100,000 footy fans gathered in the MCG for one of the visitor economy’s blockbuster events. Sadly, this year, every face in that crowd now represents one of the tourism jobs expected to be lost in 2020-2021,” Ms Mariani said.
The Grand Final contributes approximately $50 million to the local economy, with UNSW economist Tim Harcourt estimating the cost of the lost football season at approximately $340 million.
Total room revenues for Melbourne CBD hotels over three days during the Grand Final weekend in 2019 was just over $13.5m, which will be lost this year.
Occupancy levels in the lead up to the Grand Final would normally be sitting at a solid 90% across the city’s hotel inventory. For this year, forward occupancy levels are sitting between 13%-15% with average daily room rates down 40% on the same time last year.
VTIC CEO Felicia Mariani said public health and safety must always come first, however, industry was keen to work closely with government on plans for a safe re-start and recovery for the events industry.
“It took Victoria 30 years of planning and investment to become the major events capital of Australia. If we are to retain our enviable position, and evolve for new conditions, the planning needs to start now,” Ms Mariani said.
“The events sector, and its related supply chain that creates the magic in our state’s vibrant events calendar, has been decimated by the forced closure of the industry since mid-March. While other industries have had the chance to reactivate at points in time over the past six months, the events industry has not had that fortune.”
The sector was the first to be affected by impacts of Coronavirus restrictions and projections show they will be the very last to recover. For this reason, VTIC worked with its Events Policy Committee in the formation of a position paper to government which outlines a roadmap for recovery of the sector and is calling for $250 million in relief packages to support the industry to make it through to the other side of this crisis.
“Victoria’s visitor economy fuels the fortunes of many business operations, including in regional parts of our state. The rolling crises of bushfires and then COVID-19 have left many small business bleeding revenue, jobs and hope. Our tourism and events industry is the heart and soul of Melbourne and Victoria’s global profile and needs to be supported so we can assist government with the heavy lifting of rebuilding on our pathway to recovery.
“VTIC is pleased to be participating in the sector roundtables that have been organised to work with Government in shaping the roadmap out from Stage 4 Restrictions and will be taking these critical messages to the table on behalf of Victoria’s tourism and events industry,” said Ms Mariani.