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City's sport tourism helps drive economic growth



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THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, CITIES AND

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM

MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER

CITY'S SPORT TOURISM HELPS DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH

At this time of year, it is hard to dispute Melbourne’s claim to be the sporting

capital of Australia.

During summer, events such as the Boxing Day Test and the Australian Open

capture the attentions of millions of Australians, as well as of sport fans across

the globe.

While sport provides great entertainment, it’s also important to acknowledge

Melbourne’s success in linking sport to tourism, creating tens of thousands of

jobs.

Other Australian cities would do well to emulate its efforts.

Roy Morgan Research shows 12.8 per cent of people who visit Melbourne take

in a sporting event — twice as many as those who visit Sydney and nearly three

times more than visitors to Brisbane. Indeed, about 15 per cent of visitors

interviewed in one survey said their only reason for coming to Melbourne was to

attend a sporting event.

All those visitors also check out the city’s other offerings, creating jobs in

restaurants, bars and shops.

For example, during the Australian Open — beginning today — hundreds of the

world’s top players and their support teams are in town, along with more than

650 journalists and broadcasters. Up to 700,000 people will attend the event,

many from out of town.

And that’s just the tennis. When you add the AFL, the Boxing Day Test, the

Spring Racing Carnival, the Formula One Grand Prix and Phillip Island’s

Motorcycle Grand Prix, you start to get an idea of the importance of sport to the

Victorian economy.

Melbourne stands as the perfect example of a city that knows what it is good at

and has turned that strength into a huge creator of jobs.

Much credit is due to clever marketing by tourism authorities and state

governments of all political colours, who realised long ago that their city’s love of

sport should be turned into an industry.

But I give most credit to the people of Melbourne, who don’t just watch sport in

lounge rooms or pubs, but flock to sporting events in huge numbers.

The weight of spectator numbers creates great atmosphere, which in turn

attracts more spectators.

That is why millions of Australian sport fans, wherever they hail from, tell each

other in pubs and coffee shops that whatever they do, one day they will attend a

Melbourne Cup or an AFL Grand Final.

Melbourne’s stunning success in sports-related tourism provides a great

example for the rest of Australia at a time at a time when our economy is in

transition.

As the economy continues to move out of the construction phase of the mining

boom, we need to lift job creation in other industries to maintain our quality of

life.

Tourism holds huge potential for jobs growth, as long as we think strategically.

Not all communities have a tennis major, a Great Barrier Reef, a Sydney

Harbour, or some other stunning natural attraction to draw visitors.

But it’s possible to get around that if you think outside the square.

The NSW city of Parkes, for example, has created an annual tourism boom with

its Elvis Festival every January, which attracts more than 20,000 visitors.

The innovation is replicated by the extraordinary silo art trail which will

encourage year-round tourism through Victoria’s wheatbelt.

Tourism strategies can also be crafted around music and arts festivals.

Wine-growing regions have taken to doubling as venues for international music

acts.

In 2017, governments at all levels must work hard with communities to identify

and unlock these opportunities, not just in the cities but also across rural and

regional Australia.

Australia is already good at tourism. But we can be even better.

Melbourne provides the perfect template.

This piece was first published in the Herald Sun on Monday, 16 January 2017:

http://bit.ly/2iXYzjS

MONDAY, 16 JANUARY 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: PHOEBE DRAKE, 0402 141 943