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Visitor expenditure in Victoria has hit a new record high of $37.8 billion in the year ending December 2023, thanks to strong investment in the visitor economy and a blockbuster major events calendar.

The data shows Melbourne remains the city of choice for Australians, further cementing its spot as the nation’s top overnight interstate leisure destination on visitation, nights and spend – with 3.9 million visitors spending $5 billion in 2023.

Major events played an integral role in attracting many of these visitors, with a year-round calendar of top-tier events in Victoria – including last weekend’s 2024 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix, which attracted record-breaking crowds and resulted in an estimated nine out of 10 hotel rooms in Melbourne occupied, and kept the city’s cafes, restaurants, bars and shops heaving.

It was yet another example of the strength of Victoria’s major events calendar, which delivered $3.3 billion to the State’s economy in 2022-23.

Business events are also continuing to deliver strong economic gains for the state. Melbourne's calendar of business events currently sits at 118 events for 2024, which are forecast to deliver $397.4 million in economic benefit.

The newly released National and International Visitor Survey results also show an incredibly resilient domestic market, with total domestic expenditure in Melbourne 27 per cent higher compared to the year ending 2019, while regional Victoria was 39 per cent higher.

Tourism regions with particularly strong total domestic expenditure results include Geelong and the Bellarine (up 72 per cent compared to 2019 levels), Phillip Island (up 59 per cent) and High Country (up 52 per cent).

This data supports a positive outlook for our industry at a whole-of-state level, but we also know some parts of our industry are experiencing softening.

Our plan to help industry as this occurs is to focus on driving dispersal from Melbourne out to the regions. It has been recognised in the context of our new global tourism campaign, Every bit different, which brings Melbourne and regional Victoria under a single unifying brand and marks a change in how we are promoting regional Victoria in interstate markets for the first time in a decade.

The National and International Visitor Survey also shows that international travellers continue to be a key source of growth, reaching $6.4 billion in expenditure in the year ending December 2023.

At Visit Victoria, we see international visitation as the greatest opportunity for growth and we have a laser focus on supporting international recovery, which remains at two-thirds (66 per cent) of pre-pandemic levels.

Through the International Business Accelerator Program (IBAP), we are continuing to provide support and training to Victorian operators to get them ‘internationally ready’ so they can promote their businesses on the global stage and attract more international visitors to the State.

And there’s a significant opportunity ahead with Victoria set to host the biggest ever Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) in 2024, with 718 buyers from 35 countries attending. A record of more than 100 Victorian sellers, of which 95 are located in the Victoria stand, are participating in ATE24. This show of strength from Victorian tourism operators is testament to the work VV is doing to support more product get internationally ready through IBAP.

It's fantastic to see Victoria's visitor and events sectors thriving with these record results and there’s still incredible opportunities for growth ahead that will allow us to drive that number even higher.

Brendan McClements

CEO, Visit Victoria