July 9, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo
As a regional tourism destination, Phillip Island stands to be the biggest loser from the decision this week to cancel Australia’s major international Grand Prix motor sport events.
While the two events are reportedly worth $1.8 billion, the loss of the MotoGP at Phillip Island for a second year has dashed hopes of an event-led recovery for the region which is already suffering the effects of zero international visitors to its major drawcard – the nightly parade of little penguins.
Victoria’s tourism industry generated about $32 billion in 2019 and is estimated to be down more than 50 percent with Melbourne (population five million) taking the biggest hit. But 140km out of town, Phillip Island (population 12,000) had been attracting 3.5 million visitors a year, BC – Before COVID. It has grown in popularity for business events, with new and updated hotels and being less than two hour’s drive from Melbourne.
The MotoGP alone draws between 80,000 and 90,000 national and international visitors. It generates millions of dollars of economic benefit for the local economy through employment, entertainment and hospitality services and accommodation plus business events and incentive opportunities.
Following the cancellation last year, accommodation for this year’s event was almost sold out. Networking events such as the inaugural business breakfast at the GP track in 2019 quickly sold out and were set to be bigger and better this year.