Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp reinforced the value of the city’s tourism sector to the Victorian economy, when addressing senior accommodation hotel industry leaders at the Tourism Accommodation Australia (Victoria) Industry Leaders’ Lunch at Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor recently.
When doing so she cautioned that stakeholders must be proactive, at a time of exponential growth, expressing that Melbourne’s tourism sector is currently under appreciated, undervalued, under invested and under resourced, noting, however, her optimism regarding future growth projections.
The Lord Mayor stressed the City of Melbourne’s economic importance to the state and national economies, reflecting that its $100b contribution makes up twenty five per cent of the Victorian economy and seven per cent of the national economy. In doing so, she noted that Melbourne is Australia’s number one overnight visitor destination, attracting 6.9m visitors annually, with related spending of $4.8b, a figure greater than any other state or territory. Other positive growth trends included, an increase in spending by New South Wales visitors ($1.9b – up 17 per cent year on year) and increased annual international visitor arrivals (2m – up 5 per cent).
She acknowledged a forthcoming trading environment of unprecedented competition for Melbourne’s hotel industry, with as many as 14,829 hotel rooms in various stages of planning, approval or construction across the city. The Lord Mayor also appreciated the importance of maintaining a strong new business pipeline to fill these hotels and to ensure investor confidence in the Melbourne market and trading conditions is maintained.
To ensure strong growth in visitor arrivals to fill these rooms, the Lord Mayor emphasised the continued need for key industry stakeholders to collaborate effectively to secure major and business events. She reflected that Melbourne’s ability to do so is underpinned by the quality of its infrastructure; depth of offer as a “to do or experience, rather than to see city;” visitors being able to enjoy our city and its unique personality, and the effectiveness with which we amplify this, with activities like city shopping, the Queen Victoria Market redevelopment, activations in Federation Square and continued leveraging of the Southgate, Southbank and Docklands precincts critical.
The Lord Mayor referenced the symbiotic relationship that exists between retail and hospitality related spending, noting that $1.6m in retail and $1.7m in hospitality related spending occurs in the city, every day. She also stressed the importance of live music as a differentiator for Melbourne, noting that visitors spend more on live performances in our city, than any other city in the world. Given this trend, she encouraged hoteliers to consider incorporating live music into their hospitality offer.
She acknowledged frustrations that come with navigating around key infrastructure projects currently under development, that are critical to cope with the scale of growth Melbourne is experiencing, as one of the world’s top five fastest growing destinations and one whose population will surpass that of Sydney, within eight years.
The Lord Mayor also reflected on the correlation between population density and the city’s vibrancy, noting getting the balance right between commercial and residential development within the city is critical to continuing to develop an environment that is perceived as safe and welcoming and able to enhance visitor experiences, particularly during infrastructure construction periods.
When reflecting on challenges facing the city, the Lord Mayor expressed pride in how measures to ensure public and pedestrian safety have been tastefully incorporated into Melbourne’s existing streetscape. She also highlighted a housing crisis, given a lack of public housing within the city as a key impediment to individuals being able to be happy, healthy and reach their full potential within the city, nominating that this issue will be a key priority for the City of Melbourne and other relevant agencies in 2020.