The decision to move this season’s AFL Grand Final out of Melbourne will cost the beleaguered Victorian economy up to $100-million, a leading economist has estimated.
Tim Harcourt, an economist at the University of New South Wales, said having the football season’s showpiece game moved to Queensland for the first time would take between $50-$100-million out of circulation.
Hotels, restaurants and special events lose out
This includes the visitor influx from interstate that boosts accommodation and restaurant spending, as well as the loss of high-spending special events such as the Grand Final Parade, pre-game breakfast, and the Brownlow Medal function.
In an interview with the ABC, Harcourt said the final was always a particular benefit for the Victorian economy when two interstate teams contested the game, as the arrival of two sets of fans increased the need for hospitality services.
But the rescheduled game, to be played at Brisbane’s Gabba on October 24, won’t be as big a benefit to the Queensland economy, Harcourt said, because the Gabba will only accommodate around 30 000 people, versus the 100 000 at the MCG in Melbourne.
Melbourne CBD venues lost out on $13.5-million
Over the last grand final long weekend, just over $13.5-million was spent on accommodation in central Melbourne alone, the Victorian Tourism Industry Council said.
In a post on the council’s website, CEO Felicia Mariani noted the decision to move the Grand Final would have a ripple effect across hotels, attractions, restaurants and experiences of every kind, and highlighted the broader challenges facing the state’s once-thriving events sector.
“Last year 100 000 footy fans gathered in the MCG for one of the visitor economy’s blockbuster events. Sadly, this year, every face in that crowd now represents one of the tourism jobs expected to be lost in 2020-2021,” Mariani said.
Hotel bookings and room rates show big decline
She added that accommodation occupancy levels in the lead up to the Grand Final would normally be sitting at a solid 90% across the city’s hotel inventory. For this year, forward occupancy levels are sitting between 13%-15% with average daily room rates down 40% on the same time last year.
“It took Victoria 30 years of planning and investment to become the major events capital of Australia. If we are to retain our enviable position, and evolve for new conditions, the planning needs to start now,” Mariani urged.
“The events sector, and its related supply chain that creates the magic in our state’s vibrant events calendar, has been decimated by the forced closure of the industry since mid-March. While other industries have had the chance to reactivate at points in time over the past six months, the events industry has not had that fortune.”