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Sydney dining out as Australia’s No.1 night-time city

New restaurants and cafés are leading the growth of after-dark businesses in Sydney, according to new research that confirms the city as Australia’s dining capital and the largest contributor to a national night-time economy worth $92 billion a year.

The first city comparison of Australia’s night-time economy shows the City of Sydney had almost 4,400 businesses in the core food, drink and entertainment sectors in 2011, employing nearly 17,000 people and generating $2.76 billion in sales revenue.

All three sectors expanded in 2009-11, despite tough economic times, with food leading the charge with 12 per cent growth in the number of firms, says the report, prepared for the National Local Government Drug and Alcohol Advisory Committee.

The research comes after the City’s launch in February of its blueprint to develop Sydney’s night-time economy by 2030, “OPEN Sydney: Future directions for Sydney at night.”

“Open Sydney is the culmination of almost two years of ground-breaking work by the City, and this research reinforces just how important and timely it is,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“What happens in our city after dark is vital to the strength of the broader economy of the city, the state and the country, as well as having an impact on residents, visitors and tourists.”

“Sydneysiders told us they want a safe, thriving city that is buzzing with activity, easy to get around and offers something for everybody. Open Sydney reflects that and gives us a blueprint to get there.”

“We’ve started delivering on many of the ideas people gave us – such as our food trucks trial, our live music taskforce, and the small bar scene which is going from strength to strength.”

“The next step we’d like to see is an ongoing coordinated approach that includes transport and policing, liquor licensing and tourism, as well as the important services the City provides.”

Ideas and projects the City has already initiated from the OPEN Sydney process include:

  • Sydney Food Trucks Trial: A fleet of nine trucks has added a new layer to Sydney’s dining scene, generated more than 30,000 downloads of the City’s food truck locator app, and won two prestigious awards for innovation;
  • Kings Cross Plan of Management: The City upgraded CCTV security cameras in Kings Cross, introduced a blanket Alcohol Free Zone, improved taxi-rank management and signage, established a compliance hot team, opened a new information kiosk, and installed more rubbish bins and portable toilets, as part of joint actions with the NSW Government;
  • Live music taskforce: Australia’s leading live music policy experts have begun meeting to advise the City about how to revitalise Sydney’s live music and live performance scene;
  • Cultural Policy: We’re developing a cultural policy that will outline a vision for the cultural life of Sydney create a framework for making decisions about the city’s cultural and creative activities; and
  • Cutting red tape: The City has hosted eight how-to workshops that covered opening a small business, a small bar, organising a gig and throwing a pop-up event, with nine planned for 2013.

The City is calling for a high-level taskforce to ensure Sydney’s night-time economy continues to grow strongly and builds on its reputation as Australia’s leading late night city.

The taskforce would draw on the expertise of retailers and businesspeople, cultural institutions, entrepreneurs and tourism experts to drive a coordinated approach towards a healthy, safe and varied entertainment precinct.

The Lord Mayor has written to the NSW Premier calling for the taskforce to include representatives from Destination NSW, Transport for NSW, NSW Police, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, NSW Trade and Investment, the Department of Justice and Attorney General and local government.

According to the Australian Night Time Economy report:

  • More than 10 per cent of Sydney firms are part of the night-time economy, more than any other city;
  • Between 2009-11, Sydney added 336 night-time food businesses for a total of 3,066, entertainment businesses grew by 38 to 874 and drink businesses – helped by small bars – grew by 24 to 441; and
  • Tight economic circumstances in 2009-11 were reflected in a slight dip in turnover for Sydney’s night-time businesses from $2.83 billion to $2.76 billion and an easing of jobs despite there being more operators.

“The research shows times are tough for many businesses, and governments of all levels must do what they can to support them,” the Lord Mayor said.

“OPEN Sydney does this with more than 250 recommended actions to cut red tape, improve transport and create a safe, welcoming and lively city for all to enjoy.

“We want the night-time economy to continue to grow and create jobs. To do this we need better-integrated and longer-running transport, more diversity of options for all age groups at night, good quality food and retail choices, creative and beautiful lighting, more public toilets and measures to address the drinking culture. We need a coordinated approach involving all stakeholders.”

The full “Australian Night time Economy: a first analysis” report can be found here.

The full “OPEN Sydney: Future directions for Sydney at night” report can be found here.

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Rohan Sullivan, phone 02 9246 7298 or 0414 617 086, or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Matt Levinson 0427 044 768 or

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