Record return for Victoria as Melbourne Cup Carnival reaches new heights

8 April 2024 Written by VRC

The Melbourne Cup Carnival has delivered its highest ever return to Victoria with $468.3 million in gross economic benefit generated in 2023, a 10.9% increase on 2022.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival provided the largest economic contribution by a Victorian major event last year and brings the total contribution in the past decade to more than $3.7 billion, as the positive benefits reach a wide range of industries including retail, accommodation, entertainment and hospitality.

Increases were recorded in multiple categories, with an increased spend on accommodation to $43.1 million (up 22%) and $32 million on food and beverage (up 13.5%).

Cup Week continues to draw people to Victoria and in 2023 the event was directly responsible for bringing 67,555 individual visitors to the state, a 10.9 per cent increase on 2022 and the second highest number of out-of-state visitors since tracking commenced in 2007.

As one of the state's flagship major events, the Melbourne Cup Carnival has attracted more than half a million interstate and international visitors to Victoria in the past decade, including the impact of several years of travel restrictions.

Engagement with Lexus Melbourne Cup Day stretches well beyond the gates of Flemington Racecourse, with more than half the Australian adult population   watching, listening or engaging in an activity to celebrate ‘the race that stops a nation’™.

The economic impact and engagement study conducted by market research company IER found that $605.7 million in direct expenditure was generated across Australia from Lexus Melbourne Cup Day activity nationally, and event and attendees at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2023.

Record economic activity was supported by an increase in attendance at Flemington Racecourse across Cup Week to more than 262,000, a 7.5 per cent increase on the year prior.

Research reveals that more 18-29 year-olds attended the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2023 than in 2022 and they now account for greater than 20% of total attendances, with more than a third of first-time attendees coming from this age group. TAB Champions Stakes Day saw the largest portion attendances by racegoers aged under 30 at nearly 30 per cent.                                         

The Lexus Melbourne Cup has a reach unrivalled by any other Australian horse race, having been broadcast to around 209 countries with a global audience reach of approximately 750 million in 2023.

Victoria Racing Club Chairman Neil Wilson said the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival had been a spectacular success for Melbourne and once again underlined its economic importance to the city, the state and the country.

“Not only did we see more people come through the gates of Flemington to celebrate world class racing and experience the next edition of Australia’s first major event including the best in fashion, entertainment and culinary experiences, but we also saw a record economic return of $468.3 million to the state of Victoria,” Mr Wilson said.

“The celebration across the nation on the first Tuesday of November results in a huge economic uplift directly attributable to Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.

“From pubs and clubs to fine-dining restaurants, independent designers to department stores, primary producers to wine makers, so many industries have benefited from four days of exceptional racing at Flemington, and we’re delighted to support this state and the nation.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival also makes a valuable contribution to the local community and the VRC was proud to use our platform in 2023 to raise $698,000 for various charities and support more than 16,000 jobs.

“The VRC funds the Melbourne Cup Carnival at a cost of approximately $65 million and could not host the world-class event without the support of its partners, the Victorian Racing Industry and the Victorian State Government.”

Minister for Racing Anthony Carbines said the Melbourne Cup Carnival was the showpiece racing event for Victoria. 

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is Australia’s time to shine on the international racing stage. It’s a true bucket list event for racing fans from all over the world and indeed all over the country, once again demonstrating why Victoria is the nation’s sporting and major events capital.”

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos said the success of the Melbourne Cup Carnival shows once again why Victoria is the events capital of Australia.

“Our blockbuster major events calendar generates economic benefits of around $3.3 billion a year to Victoria’s economy, and that’s why we continue to invest in major events here in Victoria – because they’re part of our DNA.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival shines a light on Victoria on a global stage and we’re proud to host the event right here in the heart of our State.”

Other key findings from the IER 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival economic impact and national engagement study:


  • 67,555 individual visitors from interstate and overseas.
  • Engagement with the New Zealand market remains strong, with the highest attendance since 2016 at 9,800.
  • Kiwi visitors made up more than 58% of total attendances by international visitors, with healthy increases in attendances by visitors from the United Kingdom (2,641), United States (1,056) and Ireland (1,174).
  • On the domestic front, New South Wales recorded increased attendances (37,518) in 2023 while attendances from Western Australia rose well beyond pre-pandemic levels (12,245).
  • 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Day saw 8,610 cruise ship passengers in attendance, coming from three Melbourne Cup Carnival themed cruises out of Sydney and Brisbane.


  • $49.4 million spent on retail, fashion and grooming including 262,978 fashion purchases.
  • The retail spend covered more than 44,000 hats and fascinators, 38,000 shoes, 42,000 dresses and 14,000 suits.


  • $43.1 million spent on accommodation, a 22 per cent increase year on year.
  • 218,916 bed nights with more than 70 per cent of out of state visitors staying in hotels.


  • $32 million was spent on food and beverage as people embraced the culinary scene both at Flemington and around the city.
  • The carnival was serviced by six catering companies, including Crown Melbourne which is the hospitality services partner of the VRC. Cup Week also featured 16 different food vendors.

National Engagement

  • 11 million people watched, listened or engaged in an activity to celebrate the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
  • Of that 11 million, more than six million people or 29.9 per cent of the national adult population, celebrated the day by attending an event. This is up from 28.6 per cent in 2022 and is now at its highest level ever recorded.
  • Of those six million, 1.8 million attended a restaurant, pub, club or RSL while 1.5 million attended a private house party.

The 2024 Melbourne Cup Carnival is now on sale with a range of hospitality and dining packages available, as well as exceptional value on early bird general admission tickets.

On the back of the announcement the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival delivered a record gross economic return of $468.3 million to Victoria, VRC Chairman Neil Wilson joined Racing Pulse to explain what makes it such a successful event.

Press PLAY above to hear the full chat