The last time the Barmy Army came to Sydney to experience a 5-0 whitewash in 2007, the pound was worth almost AUD$3, allowing plentiful consumption of beer to ease the humiliation.
Today, it will get them just AUD$1.80, but despite that, and the drubbing they’ve faced on the cricket field, some 11,000 English supporters came to Sydney giving the city’s hotel sector a bumper start to the year.
Following a sold out night across the Sydney CBD for New Year’s Eve, the “hotel full” signs were out again at many hotels for the first two nights of the Sydney Test, with the luxurious Park Hyatt commanding over $1000 on Wotif for their last rooms. With the game over in just three days, Sydney tourism will benefit further, as fans head for restaurants, attractions and shopping instead of the SCG.
One of the closest hotels to the SCG, the Mercure Sydney Central, recorded a revenue increase of 42.3% for the first four nights of the month compared to the same period last year, thanks largely to 359 rooms booked through an Ashes travel organiser. And with the Barmy Army set to lick their Ashes wounds in Sydney for close to a week, most Sydney CBD hoteliers will experience occupancy growth of over 10% for the first week in January compared to 2013.
Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW Director, Carol Giuseppi, said that while the New Year holiday period was traditionally strong for Sydney, this year was even stronger thanks to the Ashes and improved consumer sentiment.
“When Australian cricket and tourism are both winners, you can’t really ask for anything more,” she said. “Even the shoulder period leading into and out of New Year was strong right across the CBD area.
“The only period in the past few years that has come close to rivalling this New Year period was the 2013 October long weekend when Sydney had the naval review, One Direction and the NRL Grand Final all on the same weekend.
“What this shows is the power of events to attract tourists and business to the city. Whether it be sporting, food or cultural, having highly visible and strongly marketed events can draw tourists in from around Australia and even further afield. With airfares still relatively low, there are incredible opportunities to build tourism from centres such as Singapore, Malaysia, Jakarta and, of course, China.
“Sydney enjoyed a record level of inbound tourism from China in 2013, and with hotels providing enhanced services for Chinese guests, and with the prospect of increased air capacity, we have excellent prospects for growing the market even further in 2014,” she said.
Giuseppi said that a strong events calendar would help offset the impact of the closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, with the replacement venue not expected to be ready till the end of 2016.
“The NSW Government deserves great praise for the way they have actively pursued events in the past few years, and the success of this program will benefit the whole economy,” she said.