Victoria hosts in-person-only event in a positive sign of recovery

Victoria successfully held a 900 delegate conference at the MCEC recently

About 900 tourism operators gathered for the Victorian Tourism Conference held at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) on April 21 and 22, in the Australia state’s attempt to reboot the tourism and events sector.

The conference highlighted industry sector updates, marketing workshops and innovation stories, as well as an evening function that allowed delegates to reconnect. According to organisers, the face-to-face only event was Australia’s biggest in-person conference in more than a year.

Victoria successfully held a 900 delegate conference at the MCEC recently

This comes as gathering restrictions in Victoria were eased to allow venues to operate at 100 per cent capacity for events under 1,000. MCEC, where the conference was held can now host up to 10,000 attendees, at up to 75 per cent capacity per event space.

“To get this turnout is phenomenal, given everything Victoria went through in the second half of last year,” said Julia Swanson, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), referring to the lockdowns in Melbourne – the longest of which lasted for almost four months.

“It’s symbolic of the industry starting to turn into a recovery chapter,” she said. “Visit Victoria has also gone through a big restructure with a new strategy set up for the future so it was important to share insights, get people connecting again and paint a sense of optimism.

“Businesses are slow to rebuild and confidence has got to be rebuilt – that’s just the reality. But the appetite is coming back and events like this are a moment in time where you can demonstrate how good it is to be back and (show) what can be done,” she continued.

Two weeks ago, MCB also launched a national business events programme offering interstate event organisers up to A$25,000 (US$19,438) to support hosting costs for events in Melbourne, with 50 per cent payable before the event starts to help with upfront expenses.

The move was met with “an incredible response” generating about 100 enquiries already, revealed Swanson.

She also shared with TTGmice the outlook for international business is healthy. “We’ve probably got the biggest pipeline we’ve had in a long time. We kept our teams overseas fully operational all through the pandemic and we’ve won bids (from) now until 2028. In Asia, our teams in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur are busier than ever speaking to clients,” she said.

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