The NSW government will splash out $51.5 million in a bid to breathe life back into the Sydney CBD and rejuvenate the struggling live music, entertainment and tourism industries.
The funding announcement comes ahead of JobKeeper’s end later this week.
The biggest chunk of the money – $24 million – will go to live music venues.
The government says the money will be administered by Destination NSW with the new Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner and Create NSW.
Some 200,000 NSW residents will get $100 vouchers to stay in hotels in the CBD. They’re likely to be handed out on a first come, first served basis in the winter.
“With international, interstate and business travellers virtually non-existent for the past year, the CBD, and in particular the accommodation industry, has done it tough,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement.
The vouchers are on top of the government’s Dine and Discover scheme, which gives NSW residents the same amount to spend at pubs, restaurants and other entertainment and cultural venues.
Industry welcomed the announcement.
The Accommodation Association, which represents almost 3500 hotels across Australia, called it a “huge win”.
“These timely initiatives recognise that the Sydney accommodation market is currently the worst-performing city market in Australia with revenue declines of 67 per cent,” Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long said in a statement.
“Sydney’s CBD hotels have a forward booking rate of less than 10 per cent for the next 90 days. We need to do whatever it takes, especially with the imminent end to JobKeeper, to get people back into the heart of Sydney, spending money and having fun.”
NSW Tourism Industry Council executive manager Greg Binskin, said the vouchers announcement came “at the right time”. He said foot traffic was returning to the CBD but the closure of international borders meant hotels still had below-average occupancy levels.
The Australian Hotels Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW also welcomed the voucher scheme.
The AHA’s John Green said there would be flow-on effects to hotels, bars and restaurants and in the city.
“We have to remember though that pubs remain at 50 per cent capacity, and it really won’t be ‘business as usual’ for us until that changes,” he said in a statement.
The government will also pump $5.5 million into a package to support events businesses. Another $2 million will fund the Love NSW campaign, with the aim of supporting tourism businesses.