With airline schedules returning to normal and international visitors inching back towards pre-pandemic levels from many markets, Melbourne’s major hotels and inbound flights are heavily booked across the four-day horse racing carnival from Saturday.
In a post-event audit following the 2022 Melbourne Cup, market researchers IER said the Spring Racing Carnival had contributed $422 million to the economy, with 73,816 attending last year. This compares to a gross economic benefit of more than $520 million with 81,408 attendees in 2019.
Corporate entertainment suites and marquees abound during the Cup carnival although no one has yet quantified how much business is done. However, over the past decade IER estimated the Spring Raving Carnival created more than $3.6 billion in gross economic benefit, while they said the Australian Open tennis tournament was worth $2.6 billion over the same period.
Both events offer a range of corporate entertainment options that are popular with both Melbourne based organisations and companies from interstate. Last year over 38 per cent of attendees at the Cup were from interstate.
And the four-day event was directly responsible for bringing 60,897 people to Victoria, including international guests from 28 countries. Anecdotally, major hotel bookings for Cup week suggest the attendance figures should be even better this year than last.
The Melbourne Cup was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and was capped at 10,000 attendees in 2021. By comparison, during World War II it continued but was run on Sundays, instead of the first Tuesday in November.
The record Cup Day attendance figures were set in 2003 when 122,736 passed through the turnstiles at Flemington, but this was driven by the performance of legendary Makybe Diva who won the race in 2003, 2004 and 2005, along with the 2005 Cox Plate.
The Melbourne Cup, renowned as “the race that stops a nation” was first run in 1861 and is the world’s richest and most gruelling handicap race over 3,200m for the world’s best local and international racehorses. The race will take place at 3pm AEDT on Tuesday November 7.