Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) contributed more than $740 million in economic impact to Victoria in the 2019/20 financial year.

Over the period, MCEC generated $79 million in operating revenue and held 800 events at the venue, with a total of 715,000 attendees. A further 251 events, scheduled to be held between February and June, were cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions.

The Hon John Brumby AO, chairperson of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, said the 2019/20 financial year had been one of two distinct halves for MCEC.

“Our first two quarters closing at the end of December 2019 were amongst our most successful in the organisation’s history,” he said.

“We delivered a number of record-breaking months, including the top two revenue months in the history of the business, in August and October. This was an outstanding start to a year that proved to be challenging for MCEC, our industry and all Victorians.”

With MCEC having made an economic contribution of more than $1.1 billion in the previous financial year, the total of $740 million in the 2019/20 year is a decline, however MCEC still managed to welcome more than 1.7 million visitors to the venue overall, including members of the public using cafés and facilities, with 27,000 of these international delegates.

MCEC continued its focus on sustainability, with achievements during the year including the appointment of a full-time sustainability manager, the MCEC expansion being awarded a Five Green Star rating for building design and the introduction of an edible garden in the Goldfields courtyard. The venue also increased its food waste capture for charity OzHarvest, with 60,333 meals donated in the financial year.

MCEC chief executive Peter King said MCEC would continue to be a valuable contributor to the state’s economic growth and recovery, and had embarked on a strategy to explore new revenue opportunities, such as the venue’s virtual event product or its recent use as film studio for a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson.

“We are working incredibly hard to ensure we can continue to be a cornerstone of Victoria’s economy by pivoting in the new world we find ourselves in,” he said.