Accor has welcomed plans by James Packer to invest in a major tourism infrastructure project at Barangaroo in Sydney.
The proposal includes a major hotel as well as entertainment and meeting facilities.
Accor Australia Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath, said that with Mr Packer’s proposal and the re-development of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney’s tourism sector was at last receiving the investment support it requires to compete in the Asia Pacific region.
“Cities such as Melbourne in Australia, and Singapore and Hong Kong in Asia, have invested heavily in tourism infrastructure over the past decade and reaped the rewards, whereas in Sydney there has been virtually no development, which in turn has affected our ability to attract new – and particularly high-end – tourism to the city,” he said.
“The O’Farrell government and individuals like Mr Packer should be praised for their commitment and foresight. It is too easily forgotten or ignored that tourism is not only one of the biggest drivers of foreign income in Australia, it is also one of the largest employers.
“Daily, we read of job losses in traditional manufacturing and other sectors of the economy, but tourism and hospitality still has enormous capacity to grow employment if the sector can attract the right levels of investment.
“The growth market for Australia is undoubtedly Asia in general and China specifically, which is why Accor has pioneered the introduction of Optimum Service Standards for the Chinese market. But we need more if we are to win our fair share of that market.
“This means high end hotels with superior entertainment facilities, such as the project suggested by Mr Packer. Naturally it is important that city planning and other aspects of the proposal should be examined closely, but the question should be how do we address these issues, rather than how do we use them to block such proposals.
“This is not just a tourism issue, this has major significance for the wider economy, and could very well provide the kick-start Sydney has lacked since the Olympics,” McGrath said.