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CEO Update - 28 June 2023

Today marks a significant moment for Victoria’s visitor economy.

The latest figures from Tourism Research Australia are record-breaking for our state – and reflect the collaboration, dedication and tenacity of ‘Team Victoria’.

For the year ending March 2023, tourism spending in Victoria hit a record $35 billion – reaching the Victorian Government’s 2024 tourism target more than a year ahead of schedule. The 2019 pre-COVID peak was $32.5 billion.

Victoria is also leading the nation’s recovery. Our State attracted 22.1 per cent of Australia’s total visitor expenditure over the 12-month period and made the largest market share gains in the country with a 2.9 percentage point growth.

Days after being declared as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Melbourne has also kept the top spot as the country’s number one interstate overnight leisure destination, with 3.6 million visitors staying 14.6 million nights and spending $5.1 billion.

In regional Victoria, the visitor economy is humming. During the 12-month period, all tourism regions hit all-time highs, with visitor spending in Phillip Island increasing by 75 per cent, High Country up by 73 per cent, and the Grampians rising by 66 per cent since 2019.

International markets continued to recover reaching $4.2 billion in visitor expenditure in Victoria in the year ending March 2023 – approximately 50 per cent of 2019 levels. China has also returned as the number one international market after only reopening in January.

This outstanding progress is a result of a team effort, as well as the incredible resilience and creativity of the hard-working people in our industry.

These figures are a credit to all participants in Victoria’s diverse and compelling visitor economy, including businesses in tourism, hospitality, accommodation, attractions, aviation, major events, regional events, business events, retail, tour operators and transport. We’ve seen our Regional Tourism Boards and local councils dedicated to helping their regions prosper, as well as outstanding leadership from key industry bodies including Paul Guerra at the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dougal Hollis at Tourism Accommodation Australia and Felicia Mariani at the Victoria Tourism Industry Council. For Visit Victoria, it has also been terrific to work on a day-to-day basis with our colleagues in the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industries and Regions (DJSIR) who have played a key role in the industry’s recovery on the supply side.

We also congratulate Melbourne Airport, Avalon Airport and DJSIR for significant progress with aviation which is critical to Victoria’s success. International seat capacity to Melbourne is at approximately 92 per cent of June 2019 levels as of June 2023. This is set to increase to 98 per cent by September 2023 (compared to September 2019).

On behalf of the Victorian Government, Visit Victoria has been privileged to help build and drive demand in Melbourne and regional Victoria through our tourism campaigns and blockbuster events calendar.

The strength of our major events calendar has been a key tourism driver, with highlights including the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, the 2023 Australian Open and 2023 Australian Grand Prix which attracted record crowds. Iconic live music acts included Kings of Leon in Mildura and Billy Joel as part of Always Live at the MCG; as well as cultural events such as Alexander McQueen at the NGV, and Elvis: Direct from Graceland in Bendigo. Theatre productions included Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Moulin Rouge! The Musical and &Juliet. And that’s just to name a few.

Business events also delivered big, with the Melbourne Convention Bureau continuing to achieve outstanding results for the state, such as the benchmark setting Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) and the World Barista Championships.

At Visit Victoria, we’re proud of delivering two of the most successful visitor campaigns in Victoria’s history with Stay close, go further and Get Set – Melbourne. These campaigns have helped showcase Melbourne and regional Victoria to entice more people to visit. Combined, these campaigns reached more than 15 million people in the year ending March 2023.

Our digital audience continues to grow, and by April, monthly website traffic to eclipsed one million visitors for the first time since July 2019. While our social media channels, e-newsletters and the Official Visitor Guide grow in reach and readership in both domestic and international markets.

There is still plenty more work to do as well as big opportunities ahead of us with further growth expected in international markets (particularly China and India), Victoria hosting the 2024 Australian Tourism Exchange, along with many more major, regional and business events.

At Visit Victoria, we’re feeling incredibly optimistic about the future. We’ll continue to work hard to attract blockbuster events and share Victoria’s story through creative campaigns in the months and years to come.

Congratulations to all of you in the visitor economy for your contribution to help drive these incredible results.

Kelly Dickson

Visit Victoria Acting Chief Executive