April 21 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

The numbers say it all. The tourism industry, and the events sector, is determined to restart and make-up for lost ground.

The Victorian Tourism Conference is shaping up to be the biggest conference ever for the tourism and business events industries and it kicks off today at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. To my knowledge as a veteran of the industry, with experience organising events in this space dating back to pre-Sydney 2000 Olympic Games – there has never been a bigger conference for these industries in Australia.

Over 900 people are registered to take part in the event, which is face to face only, with organisers thrilled with the level support from Victorian and interstate delegates.

It has taken a global pandemic to bring the visitor economy to its knees but Victoria is charting its course back to recovery through collaboration between agencies, industry and stakeholders across its economy.

Julia Swanson, CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau says it’s the first time in more than a year that over 900 people from our industry have come together. That was at AIME 2020 in Melbourne, the last significant international event for the business events sector.

On the eve of the today’s historic event she told micenet, “This is a great opportunity to showcase how our city is working together.

“One thing that really differentiates Melbourne is its collaborative approach to recovery and I am excited to be participating in this year’s event,” she said. Swanson will be speaking as part of the business events section of the program.

The conference will run over two days, bringing together industry leaders, brand experts and Victorian tourism and event stakeholders to work together on reigniting Victoria’s visitor economy and business in 2021.

MC Holly Ransom will join the stellar line-up of speakers including Mark Ritson (brand consultant), Jason Marriner (CEO of Marriner Group) Craig Tiley (CEO of Tennis Australia and Australian Open Tournament Director), Sam Bloom (author), Brendan McClements (Visit Victoria CEO), Lisa MacCallum (former Vice President of NIKE and founder and President of Inspired Companies), Shane Delia (Chef, Restaurateur and founder of Providoor), Chris Riddell (futurist), Sarah Hunter (Chief Economist for BIS, Oxford Economics), Shae Keenan (Visit Victoria Chief Marketing Officer) and Damien de Bohun (Visit Victoria’s Director of Major Events).

Delegates are flying into Melbourne from around Australia for the event.