October 29, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has released its 2020/2021 financial year report which shows the stark impact of the pandemic on the events industry.

With Melbourne spending more time in lockdown – over five separate periods – during the last financial year than any other Australian city, the centre recorded an economic impact of $49 million, down from the record $1.1 billion achieved in the 2018/2019 financial year – the last to be unimpacted by COVID-19.

MCEC hosted just 154 events – down more than 1,000 on the usual 1,200 held per year.

The venue’s chief executive Peter King said MCEC used the opportunity to rebuild and reset while its doors were closed during the last financial year.

“While we couldn’t run and plan events as usual, our business has focused on exploring new ways to succeed in a post-COVID world, by testing a new operating model and finding new revenue streams, partnerships, and opportunities to contribute to Victoria’s economic and social recovery,” he said.

During the year, the venue developed its five-year sustainability plan and indicated a goal of becoming carbon neutral within a decade, and focussed on its commercial and community partnerships. These included using the centre’s spaces as a film set, a drive-in cinema, to train guide dogs and to host the Southern Hemisphere’s first permanent digital art gallery, THE LUME, which is set to open next month and will also be able to host events.

MCEC has also been a COVID-19 vaccination hub since March.

“Taking partnership approach has helped us to successfully navigate a very challenging time,” said King.

“We have learnt a lot along the way and as always it has been our people who set us apart, and our people who will lead the way in the year to come.”