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Burning rubber or return on investment? Major events review

As New South Wales Premier Mike Baird says he will make a bid to wrest the Grand Prix away from Melbourne if re-elected, the Victorian government has launched a review into its major events architecture.

The Premier announced on Tuesday that KPMG, together with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, will review the current government bodies responsible for tourism and major events. Sir Rod Eddington will chair a reference group.

The major events market is becoming increasingly competitive as cities realise the potential benefits of a well-co-ordinated calendar — the government’s own media release notes NSW has added 110 sporting, cultural and lifestyle events to its calendar since 2011.

The review will look at events around Australia and the world and consider the structure of Victoria’s major events governance. The government aims to have it completed by the end of April.

“The review is about how things need to change with a view to streamlining,” said Kate Roffey of lobby group Committee for Melbourne, who is in contact with organisations involved in the review.

There are currently three main bodies overseeing big events south of the Murray — the Melbourne Convention Bureau, Tourism Victoria and the Victorian Major Events Corporation — plus a few others besides managing things like trade missions.

“I think it’s about saying ‘can we do it better?’.”

“The review is about going back and asking whose remit lies in which space, who has responsibility for what,” Roffey told The Mandarin. “It’s not necessarily saying we’re changing our responsibilities. It’s about asking where the gap areas are.”

It’s important, she argues, to consider whether all parts of the event “supply chain, from landing at the airport to driving to the hotel to attending the event” are working as best they can.

“It’s about checking we’ve got all the links in the chain working well,” she said.

Sydney is one model Melbourne will undoubtedly be looking to. The setup in NSW is more integrated but also covers a narrower portfolio of events and activities, she says.

Another success story is London First, a “quasi-government-funded entity” which serves as a conduit for events across a large range of areas, which has done well helping to attract major events to the British capital.

Asked what areas she thought Victoria particularly needed to improve, Roffey insisted it’s not so much that Victoria is faring poorly, but rather it needs to make sure it stays in the lead.

“I don’t know that we necessarily have a problem, I think it’s about saying ‘can we do it better?’. We need to consider how we can maintain our competitive edge, as others are catching up very quickly.”

Premier Daniel Andrews framed the review in terms of Victoria keeping ahead of the pack:

“Our calendar of events is the envy of the rest of the world, but we should never become complacent. If we lose our edge, we lose tourists, and, eventually, we lose jobs.

“This review will be fast, thorough, wide-ranging, and will help us make plans to cement Victoria’s status as the events capital of Australia for years to come.”

The Victorian Visitor Economy Review is the first of its kind in nearly two decades. An audit into state investment in major events was conducted in 2007.

Victoria attracts 2.3 million international tourists each year — as many as Queensland. Tourism is the state’s second largest export after education.

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne.