Bumper crowd predicted for first day of cup carnival

ATTENDANCE figures for next week’s Melbourne Cup carnival are tipped to be down, but a 13 per cent rise in numbers is forecast for tomorrow’s Derby Day at Flemington.
Analysts at the market research company IBS World have predicted that the carnival’s first day, which attracted more than 90,000 racegoers last year, will have more than 102,000 fans.
In the past five years, attendance figures for the four-day carnival have dropped 12 per cent. IBS World predicts the dwindling trend will continue, with overall numbers dropping by a further 1 per cent from last year’s crowd of more than 353,000.
The Victoria Racing Club chief executive, Dale Monteith, said while general admission sales for the Melbourne Cup carnival were a little slow this year, corporate and sponsorship was up about 10 per cent.
A club spokesman credited the slow sales as a noticeable trend over the past few years as racegoers have tended to buy tickets closer to the event. The carnival’s final day, Emirates Stakes Day, was generating plenty of ticket sales thanks to the appearance of Black Caviar.
At Royal Randwick’s Melbourne Cup day festivities, ticket sales are on par to meet its 2010 figure of more than 20,000.
“We’ve already reached capacity for our corporate hospitality seats, having sold 3500 tickets,” the general manager of marketing at the Australian Turf Club, Melinda Madigan, said.
“About 3000 general admission tickets have been sold, which is exactly what we expected at this point in time.”
The chief executive of the Tourism Transport Forum, John Lee, said even with the uncertainty of industrial action potentially taking place during the Melbourne Cup carnival, tour operators had no travel package cancellations.
“Commentary about striking hasn’t dampened the spirits of attendees,” Mr Lee said.
“About 20 per cent of carnival punters are interstate travellers. Agents have only heard reports of annoyance from customers who may have their flights delayed.”
The general manager of Australian Sports Tours, Sam Harrison, said his company usually sold about 250 packages – incorporating tickets, flights and accommodation – for the Melbourne Cup carnival and this year had been no different.
The Sydney tour operator, who typically sells packages to clients in NSW, Brisbane, regional Victoria and Perth, said the only time sales were dramatically affected was in 2007, when the equine flu hit.