The Victorian State Government has announced up to AUD$210 million for the long-awaited expansion of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) in the 2015-16 State Budget.

Stage two of MCEC’s expansion includes retail space, additional car parks and multi-purpose convention and exhibition facilities add to the South Wharf site footprint.

However, it remains unclear whether the Victorian State Government, Plenary Group and their partners will develop additional hotel rooms on the site, something flagged in late October 2014 when the expansion was first announced.

A spokesperson from the MCEC told HM once the master plan is finalised and approved, they will be able to provide more details on exactly what the expansion will include, “including whether or not a hotel will be added”.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust Chairman, Bob Annells, said the expansion would ensure MCEC remains Australia’s largest convention and exhibition space.

“We have been working closely with the Victorian State Government and stakeholders to develop a proposal that meets the global demand for multi-purpose convention and exhibition space,” he said.

“The investment supports the work MCEC conducts with the Melbourne Convention Bureau to attract major business events to Victoria and aligns with the government’s Victorian Visitor Economy Review to support the growth and development of this sector.”

MCEC Chief Executive Peter King said the highly anticipated announcement was welcome news for the industry and Victoria.

“Melbourne has led the growth of the business events industry globally for the last decade and it’s wonderful to see government investing in this lucrative and important sector,” he said.

“AUD$580 million of economic contribution is generated annually from MCEC’s activities and the expansion is estimated to generate an additional AUD$175 million annually for the state.

“MCEC’s expansion will significantly expand the South Wharf precinct footprint to offer a range of flexible spaces to meet the changing needs of the business events industry, address global competition and ensure we retain our position as Australia’s number one business events destination.”

The completion of MCEC’s expansion is expected to result in an additional 74,000 international visitors annually, create hundreds of jobs and provide an estimated $167 million boost to the economy.

The venue has had a record three years while turning away 20 per cent of business opportunities due to a lack of available space, and exceeded expectations following the Victorian State Government’s previous investment to build the new Convention Centre in 2009.

Each year MCEC attracts more than 1000 events, 1.5 million visitors and is recognised globally for its excellence in event delivery.

The Victorian State Government will be working with Plenary and their partners to negotiate and finalise the proposed expansion master plan and details will follow in the coming months.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management