Sydney’s 24-hour Economy Strategy widely welcomed

14 September, 2020 by Andy Young

The NSW Government’s 24-hour Economy Strategy to restore, revive and regenerate Sydney’s night-time economy has been widely welcomed.

The strategy lays out the blueprint for making Sydney a 24-hour global city as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term impacts of the lockout laws.

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Policy think tank the Committee for Sydney welcomed the strategy, with CEO Gabriel Metcalf saying it would help support many night-time sectors decimated by the pandemic.

“We know that bars, restaurants, retailers and cultural institutions have been hit hard in 2020. This strategy is part of how we help them bounce back,” Metcalf said.

“It is one of the most detailed and comprehensive nightlife plans ever compiled for a city and a blueprint to regenerate Sydney’s 24-hour economy as the city recovers from COVID.

“Sydney is one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is now time for us to become a 24-hour city. Whilst our night-time offer is great in many places, we should aspire to much more.

“This is a way to showcase the best of Sydney: a young, fun, diverse, creative city that offers the best in culture, dining, retail and entertainment after dark.”

Australian Hotels Association NSW has been part of the development of this strategy since the beginning and Director of Liquor and Gaming John Green, said: “We look forward to continued involvement in the various working groups to ensure hotels are well represented.

“The Association is pleased to see the strategy including suburbs outside the CBD – recognising we are a true global city which needs a coherent approach across all Sydney.

“Also, our hotels have always been the mainstay of live music in NSW so any measures aimed at reducing red tape are obviously welcome.”

The Night Time Industries Association is another that has worked hard on plans to help revive Sydney’s night-time economy and Chair, Michael Rodrigues, said: “Paris, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York. When you think of some of the greatest cities in the world, they are all international destinations with a strong nightlife brand. The elements that create a diverse and exciting night-time economy in all of these places are outlined in this 24-Hour Economy Strategy, along with a clear plan of next steps.

“It’s the pathway to getting Sydney on this list of ‘must-visit’ international nightlife destinations and a very exciting step for our great city. The Night Time Industries Association welcomes this vision-setting strategy from the NSW Government as the culmination of cross industry-government collaboration for the last few years.”

“The 24-Hour Economy Strategy outlines a plan to build back better and stronger, re-energising Sydney’s nightlife and contributing to the state’s economic recovery at a time when it’s most needed. However, importantly, while it contemplates our current context with COVID-19, it also looks beyond, recognising great cities aren’t built overnight, with a pathway to deliver a socially and culturally vibrant nightlife for many generations.”

Alcohol Beverages Australia’s CEO Andrew Wilsmore said the strategy is just the tonic Sydney wants and needs as it navigates out of COVID-19.

“Our industry, along with so many others, has been hit hard in 2020 yet we know hospitality and retail jobs are the fastest and easiest of nearly any sector to create and get Australians back into work,” Wilsmore said.

“It will be wonderful to see Sydney’s night-time economy broadened and reignited in a way that is consistent with our core message of moderate alcohol consumption while enjoying life.”

Spirits & Cocktails Australia CEO, Greg Holland, added: “The 24-Hour Economy Strategy will provide the boost Sydney’s bars and nightlife venues need to recover from COVID-19.

“After years of lockout and months of lockdown, the strategy offers a path forward where Sydney’s world-class bars will thrive in a vibrant ecosystem where live music, late night arts and culture and accessible transport are the norm.

“Importantly, the strategy will unlock Sydney’s potential for a $16 billion 24-hour economy, creating jobs and opportunities to expedite the city’s recovery from COVID-19, and see Sydney reclaim its world-class standing.”

NSW Independent Bars Association President, Karl Schlothauer, said the strategy could not come at a better time for Sydney’s small bars, which are still reeling from years of lockout and are now facing the crippling effects of COVID-19.

“The strategy takes stock of the complexity of creating a sustainable and community-focused night-time economy and supports a variety of nightlife industries to grow – from small cocktail bars and boutique art exhibitions to music festivals and large scale pop up events,” Schlothauer said.

“The announcement of a Coordinator General to bring together councils, state government agencies and industry will reduce red tape and help improve regulation to create a more diverse and vibrant nightlife.

“The strategy harnesses the creative entrepreneurship shown by small bars and businesses throughout the pandemic by providing an avenue to upscale those concepts and contribute to Sydney’s broader economic recovery.”

Solotel Group CEO also welcomed the strategy, with CEO Justine Baker saying it is a great step to restoring confidence in our industry.

“As an operator of more than over 20 venues in Sydney, we were clearly interested when the Industry Advisory Group was first mooted and wanted to play a role in bringing Sydney back to life,” Baker said.

“The NSW Government’s process, and Minister Ayres’ collaborative approach has ensured that all sectors of the night-time economy were represented, and all voices were heard.

“We look forward to working with all levels of government, industry and the new Coordinator General to bring Sydney’s night-life back to where it should be – fun, full of life and with fewer restrictions.

“We think this is a great step to restoring confidence in our industry.”