4 min read

Melbourne Cup Carnival Remains Largest Economic Generator In Australian Sport


The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a truly iconic event in Australian sport, and new research has confirmed just how important it is to the state of Victoria.

According to a study conducted by market research company, IER, the Carnival generated $422.1 million in gross economic benefit in 2022, making it the number one economic generator of any annual sporting event in Australia.

The research also found that the Melbourne Cup Carnival has contributed more than $3.6 billion in gross economic benefit to Victoria in the past decade, nearly $1 billion more than the Australian Open reported for the same period.

IER’s research also revealed that there was $2,781 in gross economic impact per person who attended the 2022 Carnival, a 10% increase on 2019, which provided a much-needed cash boost to an economy that has been severely hampered by COVID-19.

According to the research, 10.3 million adult Australians engaged with Lexus Melbourne Cup Day in some way, whether by watching, listening, or participating in an activity to celebrate the day.

One interesting finding from the research is that the proportion of out-of-state visitors to the Melbourne Cup Carnival actually increased in 2022, compared to 2019, which equated to 38.3% of total attendances.

Commenting on the performance of the carnival, Victoria Racing Club (VRC) chairman, Neil Wilson, said: “The economic stimulus provided by Cup Week stretches further than any other annual sporting event in Australia, with industries such as retail, accommodation, fashion, hospitality and entertainment the beneficiaries of Australia’s original major event, it retains its status as the biggest economic generator in Australian sport.”

“The Lexus Melbourne Cup has been part of the fabric of the nation for 162 years and the VRC is pleased to learn through an independent national study that more adult Australians participated in an activity to celebrate Lexus Melbourne Cup Day than ever before at 5.8 million.

“The national engagement complements the global attention that the Lexus Melbourne Cup receives, with the race broadcast to around 209 territories last year with a potential global reach of 750 million people.

“The VRC funds Cup Week at a cost of approximately $65 million and thanks its sponsors, partners, Visit Victoria, the Victorian Racing Industry and the Victorian State Government for their support to put on the Melbourne Cup Carnival every year.

“We are already underway with plans for the 2023 Carnival, which we again expect to deliver significant outcomes for the state and nation,” he said.

Other key findings from the IER 2022 Melbourne Cup Carnival economic impact study included:


  • The largest proportion of international attendances at Cup Week came from New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with 6,483 New Zealand residents and 2,124 people from the United Kingdom. Despite ongoing restrictions to international travel, the Victoria Racing Club was delighted to welcome back international guests in the thousands.
  • New South Wales residents remain highly engaged in Victoria’s major event, with 36,852 New South Wales attendances to the Melbourne Cup Carnival and 50% of the adult population engaging with Lexus Melbourne Cup Day in that state.
  • Three cruise ships – two from Sydney and one from Brisbane – arrived in Victoria on special Melbourne Cup Carnival themed cruises, delivering 7,462 visitors to the Cup.
  • The direct spend from cruise passengers was significantly higher than 2019 (up 43.0%) alongside an increased number of passengers.


  • More than $51.9 million was spent on retail (including fashion and grooming) in Victoria by attendees. Fashion items alone accounted for $34.1 million.
  • The retail spend covered 232,870 fashion items including 37,855 hats or fascinators, 34,177 pairs of shoes, 31,578 dresses and 14,532 suits.


  • Important spend was generated for the accommodation sector in excess of $35.2million, an increase of 2.9% on 2019.
  • Visitors to the Carnival were responsible for 226,063 bed nights in commercial accommodation.


  • The hospitality sector benefited from $28.2 million spent on food and beverage during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, a 6% increase on 2019.
  • 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 this year.

It's free to join the team!

Join the most engaged community in the Sports Business World.

Get all the latest news, insights, data, education and event updates.