Accor Darling Harbour Hotels Exterior EDITED

Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct has defied the disruption caused by the demolition of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, posting solid visitor spend figures and customer satisfaction results.

Accor, the largest accommodation operator in the Darling Harbour precinct, said its hotels had enjoyed a strong first quarter of the year despite not having the usual strong flow of business from the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. Occupancy at Accor’s Darling Harbour hotels for the first quarter has increased by 3% versus 2013.

Accor Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath, said that while there had been some anticipation that the disruption would significantly affect business, the efforts of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) had proven highly successful in both limiting the impact of the redevelopment and also promoting events to ensure that the precinct remained a popular leisure destination.

“We have been impressed by the leadership and strength shown by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority to maintain visitor presence and tourism activity in essentially what is a construction zone,” said McGrath.

“Darling Harbour has remained open for business and that is thanks to the high level of dynamic events taking place and strategies designed to drive business into the precinct during the redevelopment period. We congratulate SHFA on their successful transition management model in partnership with the Darling Harbour Alliance.

“Pleasingly, our Novotel and Ibis hotels are maintaining strong occupancies throughout the first quarter and we are confident that with the active management of Darling Harbour by SHFA it can continue to thrive against the challenges,” said McGrath.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority has developed a unique Transition Management model to manage Darling Harbour throughout the redevelopment of the 20 hectare Darling Harbour Live site that will deliver a world class Convention and Exhibition facility for Sydney at the end of 2016.

Amidst cranes, construction and hoardings, the results of SHFA’s first round of Transition Management activation have been encouraging. Key statistics include:

-SHFA’s Easter activation, Hoopla, a festival of circus, produced a 9.5% increase in visitation over the same period last year.
-Month of Love, conducted in partnership with Mardi Gras for the first time ever throughout February, saw average spend in the precinct increase from $86 to $184 per Sydneysider visitor. This has ensured that business throughout the first full month of demolition has remained stable.
-Visitor satisfaction with the precinct and the activation has also remained stable at 8.3/10, a fantastic result for a first time event.

Chief Executive Officer of SHFA, Catherine Gallagher, said at a recent presentation to tourism industry groups: “Over the past 18 months, the Darling Harbour Transition office has harnessed the energy of precinct stakeholders to form the Darling Harbour Alliance, a public private partnership between the Foreshore Authority and key tourism, business and venue operators in Darling Harbour.”

“The strength of the Darling Harbour Alliance partnership and the active management of the precinct by SHFA, is creating a world class example of how precincts under redevelopment can continue to thrive.”

Sydney’s Darling Harbour is undergoing a major urban transformation and will become the home of a new state-of-the-art fully integrated convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct. This 20-hectare development will be Australia’s largest convention and exhibition facility.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management