NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet.

City hotels in Sydney have been thrown a lifeline ahead of the end of JobKeeper, with the NSW Government today unveiling a voucher scheme to encourage people to flock to the CBD and boost accommodation providers, restaurants and live music venues.

The $51.5 million plan announced by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, and Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, would be an extension of the ‘Dine and Discover’ program currently being rolled out. The new initiative will see 200,000 vouchers, each worth $100, offered to NSW residents on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis to put towards a hotel stay in the Sydney CBD.

Vouchers will be able to spent at city hotels, including Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park.

As part of the overall budgeted voucher program, $24 million would be provided to Destination NSW to work alongside Create NSW and the 24-hour Economy Commissioner on a Live Music Support Package. Another $2 million will be spent on a new ‘Love NSW’ marketing campaign focusing on the Sydney CBD, while $5.5 million will go towards a Business Events support package to entice meeting planners back to the city through a dollar-for-dollar matching program for events.

Events with more than 150 delegates will be able to claim up to AUD$30,000 in a dollar-for-dollar spend matching program from the NSW government to contribute to the event running costs, while business gatherings of under 150 people can draw back up to AUD$15,000 from the government under the same terms.

The government package was also aimed at stimulating business events to come back into the CBD.

Treasurer Perrottet said the government was going to continue to put the economy before the budget and that it was time to get the show back on the road in the Sydney CBD, with the city down 99% year-on-year in short-term international arrivals.

“Sydney is the Shangri-La of the world right now. There are shows on, the footy’s back, there’s everything happening. We want people from right across NSW to come and enjoy the best our city has to offer.

“This is an important package today to encourage people to come and stay in the Sydney CBD, come and spend and support those businesses in need.”

Getting live music back on the stage in Sydney would help bring the crowds back to town, the Treasurer said.

Minister Ayers said the package was designed to boost confidence by supercharging Sydney’s economy.

“Our businesses, particularly in Sydney, need your support and we’re going to put money in your pocket and in your business to help you do that,” he said.

Accommodation providers must be located within the Sydney CBD and must register with the NSW Government in order to participate. While the program will initially only cover CBD hotels, Minister Ayres said the government was planning to increase the geographical scope to include wider parts of metropolitan Sydney.

“We’re going to start with 200,000 vouchers that are going to be focused on the Sydney CBD area and then we’ll roll that out wider across the Greater Sydney area,” Minister Ayres added.

NSW Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres.

“It’s about getting people back in our hotels and getting business events back out again. We want people meeting each other. We want those conferences, trade shows, exhibitions and meetings taking place. We want our city active, people meeting in our coffee shops and staying in our hotels.”

When questioned by HM on whether NSW will have capacity to issue more vouchers beyond the 200,000 initial run – a similar initiative in Melbourne held recently saw 40,000 travel vouchers snapped up by Victorians in four minutes – Minister Ayres said his focus was on maximising the rollout of the initial batch.

“We’re going to start with getting the first 200,000 out and then we have capacity to respond if the market demands,” he said.

Vouchers are expected to be rolled out from June 2021, with more details on how consumers can get their hands on one to be provided in the coming weeks. Travellers would be expected to utilise the vouchers fairly expeditiously, with validity dates likely to only run for the low winter season.