New report finds that domestic visitors rate it Australia’s most creative city, but international visitors put Sydney on top.

Melbourne has been declared Australia’s cultural capital, with a new report ranking the city the top cultural destination in the country, third in the Asia Pacific, and 12th in the world for arts and culture.

Commissioned by Creative Victoria, the Boston Consulting Group’s report, entitled Melbourne as a Global Cultural Destination, surveys Melbourne’s cultural offerings to determine how it compares on a national and international scale. The city’s mix of historical and contemporary cultural venues, number of year-round events and strong independent arts sector was found to appeal both to creative practitioners and cultural tourists.

Outside of visiting family and friends, arts and culture are Melbourne’s biggest and most lucrative tourism drivers, bringing in more than $1 billion annually, with regional Victoria and New South Wales the biggest source of cultural tourists. On average, these visitors stay 25 percent longer and spend 20 percent more per trip than other tourists. The biggest attractions for both domestic and international tourists are Melbourne Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria (the most attended public gallery in the country), and the city’s street art.

However, the report points out that while domestic visitors believe Melbourne to be the most creative Asia Pacific city (38 percent compared to 28 percent for Sydney), international visitors first think of Sydney when it comes to creative capitals (34 percent compared to 23 percent for Melbourne). The report also stresses that while Melbourne’s cultural offerings rank highly in a global context, a lack of effective marketing and promotion, as well as the absence of a comprehensive cultural guide for tourists, is affecting cultural tourism to the city. 

Melbourne’s position as the country’s creative capital is not unchallenged either, the report notes, mentioning New South Wales’ plan to spend $600 million on projects such as the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and the redevelopment of the Opera House. Furthermore, the 2017 budget for NSW, which promises a $1.8 billion boost to the arts over four years, may mean Melbourne won’t retain its title for long.

However, Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley is optimistic about what the report demonstrates. “This report shows Victoria is Australia’s creative state and more importantly, a global leader”.

“Our creative industries contribute $23 billion a year to Victoria. They don’t just make this a great place for visitors, but somewhere artists and creatives want to live and work”.

The report rated London, Paris, New York, Chicago and Tokyo as th world’s top five ranking cites in terms of cultural destinations. Sydney came in at 16, Adelaide at 35 and Brisbane at 36.


The full report can be found on Creative Victoria’s website.