Visitability – A benchmark that Melbourne can own
Much has been made of Melbourne’s success as a destination in recent times. There are a number of reasons: strong marketing, a sensational events calendar and a sustained commitment to attracting business events and conferences. Tourism is a team game – a champion team will always beat a team of champions. That is why Melbourne is the most popular domestic holiday destination in Australia.
This does not mean we can be complacent. Our competitors to the North are re-organising themselves, our international source markets are changing rapidly and our community is still adjusting to the idea that Melbourne is a place that people want to visit in large numbers.
The Economist conducts a global liveability survey on an annual basis. In 2011, Melbourne was judged to be the most liveable city in the world. We knocked off Vancouver and while there were gentle celebrations in the world’s southernmost major city. There was serious consternation in Canada…
Rick Antonsen, the CEO of Tourism Vancouver came to Melbourne last October. In an outstanding presentation to the visitor industry he spoke about what makes Vancouver a great place to visit and clearly articulated the connection with ‘liveability’.
He helped identify five key things that were equally important to residents and visitors:
- access and transport
- a sense of community – no matter where you are from
- good infrastructure that serves the people
This prompted discussion around how Melbourne might rate if there was such a thing as a global visitability index.
It also set us thinking at Destination Melbourne. We have a clearly articulated role to advocate on behalf of the visitor experience. Our new vision clearly spells it out: ‘Melbourne is a compelling global destination of outstanding visitor experiences.’
Melbournians are reconciled to the idea that we have no icons – no Rock, Reef, Opera House, Dreamworld, Seaworld, Disneyland or Giant Pineapple. Without consciously thinking it through, we have displaced the need for an icon with a keen sense of how important visitors are to the fabric of our cities.
How do we encourage business community and government to work together strategically to support the visitor experience?
Melbourne may not have an iconic attraction, but we have ‘visitability’ – the sum of the parts that makes for an outstanding and memorable visitor experience.
Much has been made of the collective efforts of the visitor industry in Melbourne working together to elevate Melbourne’s brand and provide compelling reasons for people to visit. It is time we engaged the broader community in conversations about the visitor experience. We believe that by demonstrating an unqualified commitment to looking after the people who think enough of us to visit our wonderful city, we can enrich the lives of Melbournians. By investing in infrastructure, services and culture that supports visitors we can also support community life – our liveability.
Destination Melbourne has an identified role as champion of the Melbourne Visitor Experience. This is articulated in our new strategic plan in a number of ways. Over the next 3 -5 years we want:
By encouraging Melburnians to think more deeply about the quality of the visitor experience, we are also able to help them inform what makes a city more liveable.
As an industry we have a responsibility to lead the delivery of outstanding experiences in this wonderful city. We can also inspire Melburnians to support Melbourne’s development as a welcoming and safe city that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
It is time for more conversations with our community about how we can all take responsibility for being good hosts – by doing so we will almost certainly make our city a better place to live.