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Harnessing the power of sport through Victoria’s tourism drive

Published date: 
4 Sep 2018
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This article was produced in association with Visit Victoria

Melbourne’s success in winning the Best Event Strategy and Best Large City Awards in this year’s SportBusiness Ultimate Sports Cities Awards will have come as little surprise to those who have seen the Victorian capital triumph on many occasions since the awards were introduced back in 2006.

But this year’s success has to be put into context and may have been all the sweeter as it was the first since the job of attracting major events to Melbourne shifted to Visit Victoria, the organisation responsible for all aspects of the State’s tourism business.

Melbourne is, of course, a true ‘sport’ city. In any given year it hosts a glorious array of international and domestic sports events from Australian Rules football, which has its historical roots in the state, to the Formula One Australian Grand Prix and tennis’ Australian Open.

Sport is part of the city’s identity and its iconic stadia and grand prix circuit are known to fans around the world. In the highly-competitive tourism business, major sports events are a key attraction but, it should be stressed, are only part of the proposition for a city and state which prides itself on the range and diversity of events and attractions it has to offer.

It was the opportunity to pull these threads together which led Peter Bingeman to become the inaugural chief executive of Visit Victoria when it was launched in 2016. With a background in international fast-moving consumer goods marketing and a knowledge of Australia’s neighbouring Asian markets, Bingeman says that while Visit Victoria’s predecessors Tourism Victoria and Victorian Major Events Company were “two teams each doing a great job”, there was an advantage to be gained by bringing them together.

“We wanted to tell the story of Melbourne and Victoria through its events in a more marketing-driven and creative way,” he said.

Tourism is seriously important to the Victorian economy and Visit Victoria has a target of generating A$36.5bn per year by 2025 which Bingeman says is “well within our grasp.”

“In fact,” he says, “tourism is growing at twice the rate of the overall Victorian economy and has increased by A$6.4bn in the last three and a half years.”

“We have three target segments: the international market, Australia and Victoria itself,” Bingeman explained.

“And we are seeing growth across all those segments, in particular internationally from India, China and South East Asia, where we have recently run targeted marketing campaigns.”

The fact is that Visit Victoria has great raw material to work with. It’s not only a global sports hub but, as Bingeman puts it, “the creative and cultural capital of Australia and Asia”.

“This is a ‘to do’ city where you can come out of your hotel and whether you turn right or left you’ll discover a choice of things to do, from sport during the day to cultural events and great cuisine in the evening.

“Of course, we have a wonderful sports infrastructure and sport accounts for about 50 per cent of our major event-based tourism activity and spend. We pride ourselves on a calendar of events – both sport and non-sport – which stretches right across the year and adds to the tapestry of the city,” he said.

Ensuring the Melbourne and Victoria product remains world class is a key element of the marketing story. A A$1bn, three-phase project to enhance facilities at Melbourne Park, home of tennis’ Australian Open and the adjacent Olympic Park which houses the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground as well as the AMI Park, the 30,000-seat stadium which is home to the city’s two soccer clubs, is currently underway. The result is a greatly-enhanced and more cohesive experience for visitors to either the Melbourne Park or Olympic Park areas.

Across town, the State government has pledged over A$200m to develop the AFL-owned Etihad Stadium, extending the precinct to link it to the Central Business District.

According to Bingeman,the investments add value to the visitor experience and will help Visit Victoria to fulfil its objective of not simply hosting events but building long-term partnerships with the events and their owners.

For a full Q&A with Damien de Bohun, general manager, major events, Visit Victoria, click here

In the words of our partners...

Matt Kamienski, vice-president, PGA Tour and executive director, Presidents Cup:

“PGA Tour have a longstanding relationship with Melbourne and the Victorian Government through the Victorian Major Events Company, and now, Visit Victoria. We’ve had the great pleasure of bringing the world’s best golfers to one of the world’s true major events cities, including the World Cup of Golf and the Presidents Cup – and both are set to return to the famed Sandbelt in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
“The efforts of Visit Victoria to collaborate with the PGA Tour in bringing our major events to life both in Australia and around the world make them an obvious partner. That’s why we have been here so many times, and why we will always look to come back.”

Nick Hockley, chief executive, 2020 ICC World Twenty20:

“Throughout the venue selection process, the team at Visit Victoria bought into the vision and opportunity to make the ICC World T20 a spectacular celebration that everyone can be part of.”
“They also quickly identified the importance of the women’s and men’s tournaments having equal billing, with both finals to be played at Australia’s biggest sporting stadium, the MCG. Melbourne’s track record for hosting and supporting major sporting events is a key part of the ambition to set a new world record for the highest attendance at a women’s sporting event.”
“Major events of this scale are all about teamwork. Visit Victoria has a key role to play in helping bring together key partners and the community as well giving a warm welcome to the many international visitors who will be coming to Australia in 2020.”

Anthony Moore, chief executive, Basketball Australia:

“To bring the USA men’s basketball team to compete against our Australian Boomers on home soil is a bold move by Basketball Australia, and Visit Victoria is a major event agency daring enough to come on the journey with us. The event is now confirmed and less than one year away.
“Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium is the perfect venue for what will be a moment in Australian sporting history and Visit Victoria have been a great partner as we make a concerted effort to develop, deliver, market and communicate a two-match series to the thousands of basketball and sports fans found in Melbourne, across Australia and around the world.”

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