An artist's impression of a revitalised Circular Quay

A project to transform Sydney’s harbourside transport hub Circular Quay into a tourist destination complete with green spaces, walkways, and viewing platforms has been welcomed by hotels in the locality.

Under plans unveiled by the NSW government this week, ferry wharves will be upgraded, and part of the Cahill Expressway could be developed into a New York-style highline.

The project aims to link the Royal Botanic Gardens to Observatory Park and Stargazer Lawns through “one of the world’s most breathtaking walks and viewing platforms” as part of a vision to “create a city within a park”.

“For too long Circular Quay has not lived up to its potential, but this plan will see Sydney have the front door it deserves and better reflect the spectacular city we live in,” said Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport, Rob Stokes.

Government says AU$216 million will be invested in the project as part of the 2022-2023 Budget, with the goal of making Circular Quay a “truly unique experience” for visitors from overseas and around Australia.

“This investment is a critical step in reinvigorating Circular Quay, which will ultimately see millions of tourism dollars flowing back into local businesses as we build our way forward to a brighter economic future for NSW,” said NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet.

According to ResortBrokers Director of New Developments and Hotels, Tim Crooks, the proposed upgrades will see the area established as a destination unto itself rather than being viewed primarily as a convenient transitory hub.  

“Creating new experiences for visitors, including offering improved views of Sydney’s iconic skyline, will add immense value to Circular Quay as a tourist hotspot,” Crooks said.

“Renowned hotels within walking distance such as Four Seasons, Shangri-La and Pullman, will benefit from proximity to the Quay upon completion of the project, while hotels more broadly spread across Sydney’s CBD will also reap the benefits of strong rail, road and water transportation links in place to the rest of the city.”

Pier One Sydney Harbour General Manager, Kim Mahaffy, agreed that the project is good news for the business.

“The vision for a revitalised Circular Quay and Highline is one that supports connectivity and further highlights Sydney’s world-class harbour as a visitor destination: a positive experience enhancement for both locals and visitors to Sydney,” Mahaffy told HM.

“Creating a vibrant Quay is a critical part of reenergising the city and would be a fantastic initiative for the surrounding harbour businesses and experiences where many international visitors choose to stay.”

Nearby Shangri-La Sydney also welcomed the news, saying it will elevate the travel experience for leisure and business guests.

“The renewal of this area will invigorate one of Australia’s most loved and visited precincts by both domestic and international tourists and further solidify Sydney’s position as a global destination,” Shangri-La Sydney General Manager, Philippe Kronberg, told HM.

“The renewal project will add another stunning visual element to the spectacular panorama guests enjoy from our hotel windows.”  

Even in the centre of Sydney’s CBD, hotels are expected to benefit from the renewal project.

Hilton Sydney general manager, Hayden Hughes, praised the innovative efforts to grow the city experience.

“With convenient access to each CBD precinct via forms of transport such as the light rail, the Circular Quay renewal project can only add value to the CBD as a destination and will continue to build on the demand that we’re experiencing right now,” Hughes told HM.