Business organisations in Sydney have welcomed the announcement by the NSW Government of a $51.5-million stimulus package that will provide a much-needed financial boost to the city’s struggling CBD accommodation, tourism and entertainment sectors.
The strategy is also aimed at helping the recovery of live music and business events venues, which have been similarly hard hit due to pandemic-related restrictions.
Up to 200,000 accommodation vouchers on offer
The package includes up to 200,000 accommodation vouchers worth $100 each, which can be used for hotel stays in the central business district.
“As the engine room of the state’s economy, Sydney’s CBD needs support to recover its pre-Covid economic contribution of $140-billion,” said Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of Business Sydney. “[The] package will encourage people to come into the city for a night out or a weekend stay; also assisting hospitality businesses.”
She added: “Sydney is the jewel in the nation’s tourism crown and with nearly a quarter of businesses in the city impacted by Covid, the accommodation sector is amongst the worst hit due to the loss of domestic and international visitors, so this stimulus package will help save jobs and boost the whole CBD economy.”
Key CBD sectors lost up to half their business
According to Business Sydney, prior to Covid there were half a million people employed in over 23,000 CBD businesses, including 5,500 in visitor accommodation and another 9,500 in food and beverage services.
Both these sectors have lost up to 50% of their business, and the accommodation vouchers for NSW residents will assist them to stay afloat and keep people employed, the organisation said.
“It’s estimated over 20,000 businesses registered in the city are still receiving JobKeeper, which finishes in days, so this financial assistance package is also very timely and targeted for our CBD’s economy that is battling to recover and rebuild,” O’Regan said.
Need innovative ways to bring people back
Meanwhile, Paul Zahra of the Australian Retailers Association said the vouchers will also provide a boost for CBD retailers, who can look forward to increased foot-traffic around their businesses.
“Our CBDs are not the thriving places they once were pre-Covid and we need innovative ways to get people back supporting these hard-hit businesses,” Zahra noted.
“The office occupancy rate in the Sydney CBD is less than 50%; it means there aren’t as many people doing the things they would be normally – like grabbing a coffee from a nearby café, shopping during their lunch break or having dinner and drinks in the city after work.”