Australia’s leading hotel chains and associations have welcomed the AUD$2.5 billion redevelopment plans for Sydney’s convention and events precinct in Darling Harbour.

Lend Lease yesterday won the right to develop the new International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney – the former Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre (SCEC) site in Darling Harbour – a project that includes the construction of a 900-room, twin-tower hotel.

The builder is part of the ‘Destination Sydney’ consortium – alongside Hostplus, Capella Capital, AEG Ogden and Spotless – that has was announced as the preferred developer of the AUD$2.5 billion project by the New South Wales Government.

“This is a terrific decision to invest in critical infrastructure for Sydney, New South Wales and Australia,” said Accommodation Association of Australia’s CEO Richard Munro.

“Lend Lease have great credentials for development in Darling Harbour and Hostplus is a very important partner of our industry, their confidence in backing this project is well founded.

“The new convention centre will ensure that the pipeline of conference business supports the current accommodation properties as well as the new hotel planned for the precinct,” he told HM.

Mantra Group’s Director of Sales and Revenue, Kent Davidson, said the new facilities would be great for business across the city’s hotels.

“Diversity of revenue is a critical aspect of a healthy Sydney economy and having a centre with the capacity to cater to international events will provide this,” he told HM.

“It’s all about days of week in Sydney – we have a buoyant corporate market currently but the influx of business from the ICC will give a more rounded revenue profile based on day of week.

“SCEC has serviced the conference and convention business for Sydney admirably for many years – but with other Australian cities as well as other Asia-Pacific destinations providing greater capacity venues, the time had come for Sydney to expand.

“It’s an exciting prospect for the city and the business events industry,” he said.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) New South Wales Director Carol Giuseppi welcomed the announcement, saying a new midscale hotel, in particular, was great news.

“We welcome the visionary nature of the project which moves beyond simply a convention and exhibition centre design to a design which encompasses the total visitor experience,” she said.

“The new facilities will ensure that Sydney attracts more of the lucrative business events market – up to 10 per cent of business in Sydney hotels is generated from business events therefore a modern, state of the art competitive facility is obviously vital.

“In particular we welcome the planning for additional 3.5 star hotel rooms.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) Managing Director, Rodger Powell, said the project was “excellent news for the accommodation industry and delivers on two critical areas of need, world-class infrastructure and new additions to accommodation room supply”.

“In April this year TAA commissioned research by AEC Group that found up to 5,000 additional accommodation rooms are needed in the Sydney CBD by 2020 to meet increasing demand,” he said.

“The report also identified a need for more supporting infrastructure. This development will help to address both these needs.

“The NSW Government is to be congratulated on securing the interest and involvement of the Destination Sydney consortium. Lend Lease, venue managers AEG Ogden and the Spotless Group have global reputations for first-class services.

“It is especially exciting to see Hostplus Superannuation investing in this nationally significant hospitality and tourism infrastructure project.

“The members of Hostplus will be delighted to see their funds invested in such a reputable project and it is terrific to see Hostplus so strongly supporting the industry that employs its members.

“Sydney remains the tourism gateway to Australia and the development of a world-class integrated convention and entertainment facility would provide significant benefit to hotels both in Sydney and across Australia.”

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) National CEO, Des Crowe, also congratulated the NSW Government on its announcement of the preferred bidder and said the hospitality and tourism industry looks forward to the benefits that will flow from the development.

“This is an excellent outcome for the hotel industry across Australia,” he said. “Although the closure of the current facility will create some difficulties in the short term, the opportunities for growth are clear and the state Government has done well to attract high-quality investors and partners in this critical infrastructure project.”

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management