Championing the Greater Melbourne Visitor Experience forum
In November, a Leading Thinker forum was hosted by the Committee for Melbourne and Urbis. Urbis Director Craig Becconsall discussed the growth of ‘Neighbourhood Tourism’ with a fascinating presentation, benchmarking the latest developments of Greater London and Greater Melbourne.
This was followed by two keynote member presentations by Greater Western Tourism Executive Director, Richard Ponsford and North Link CEO, Chris James which profiled the growth of the Visitor Economy in the Western and Northern and regions of Melbourne and the opportunities ahead.
A broad range of Committee members and industry guests participated in the round table discussion facilitated by our Director of Engagement Clive Dwyer. Industry guests included the Victorian Tourism Industry Council, The Australian Accommodation Association and the Department of Transport.
Craig showcased the significant growth of ‘Neighbourhood Tourism’ in both Greater London and Greater Melbourne, with social media/ consumer, enquires about non-central activity districts growing significantly with strong demand for new and immersive experiences. Visitors were now exploring a much broader geographic footprint of cities and seeking more immersive and cultural experiences outside the central activity district.
Presentations on Greater Melbourne’s West and North showcased significant growth in Visitor economy infrastructure assets and accommodation but reported that soft infrastructure such as visitor information and transport connections needed greater collaboration.
Many participants expressed concern about the closure of the Federation Square Visitor Centre and the demise of Destination Melbourne (producer of the Official Visitor Guide) and the negative impact this was having on tourism information provision and visitor planning.
The forum recognised the success and momentum of the City of Melbourne Tourism plan but expressed concern there was no industry strategy for Greater Melbourne or Greater Melbourne industry collaboration or investment mechanisms.
Greater Melbourne and Victoria were enjoying continued growth in actual visitor numbers, but the concern was expressed about the shorter length of stay (yield) and the lack of a proactive approach to enhancing and measuring the visitor experience.
The Greater Melbourne Visitor Economy also requires a solid economic foundation to support visitor experiences, such as efficient and effective transport networks, innovative service offerings and a skilled workforce.
The Forum agreed on the following action points for the Committee for Melbourne:
- Hold a similar educational forum to explore the Visitor Economy in the South and North of Melbourne
- Explore with the City of Melbourne, VTIC and the Victorian Government opportunities to enhance infrastructure, events, length of stay and quality of experience for visitors to greater Melbourne
- Explore opportunities of enhanced transport and visitor information strategies
- Continue to advocate for improved industry collaboration for Greater Melbourne
Melbourne 4.0 and the Visitor Economy
As part of the Melbourne 4.0 agenda, the Committee for Melbourne established strategic priorities on behalf of its members in relation to issues such as transport, technology and skills, as significant assets underpinning a thriving industry across Victoria. Technology, innovation in service offerings (such as immersive experiences) and new product development, must also be strategically considered to further our tourism industry.
In September 2019, the Committee made a submission to the Victorian Governments Regional Tourism Review, attached here (is it?). The Committee noted a review of the Visitor Economy should not focus on regional areas in isolation from Greater Melbourne. Melbourne is a key gateway to the regions. The interdependence of Melbourne and the regions necessitates strategic thinking that includes the visitor interaction between Melbourne and regional areas, scale of marketing activity, greater transport connectivity and collaboration between different levels of government such as local councils.
For more information on upcoming Greater Melbourne Visitor experience forums click here.