THE City of Sydney last week said that major tourism groups have welcomed its action plan encouraging new and refurbished hotel developments, including a more diverse range of hotels to accommodate the growing number of visitors, particularly from Asia.
According to the council, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) the Property Council of Australia (PCA) and AMP Capital all praised the Visitor Accommodation Action Plan adopted by the City of Sydney.
In submissions on the plan, the TTF said "its objectives, particularly in encouraging a more diverse accommodation sector should be "applauded," while the TAA congratulated the council on a "very comprehensive research and consultation process.
The Property Council called the plan a "comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities faced by the visitor accommodation sector," while AMP Capital commended the City for its desire to maintain a supply of new hotel rooms.
The council's research findings, supported by these key stakeholder groups, emphasise the need to assist faster processing times of development applications, to reduce holding costs and improve the economic feasibility for new hotel developments and refurbishments of existing hotels.
The groups also urged the City to continue to make visitor accommodation a high priority by defining it as a strategic land use within central Sydney and other key locations.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said growth in hotel rooms would help Sydney remain Australia's premier destination, with increases very likely in the 10.5 million annual visitors the city already receives.
"Visitors contributed over $5 billion to the economy in 2012, and for every dollar spent on tourism an extra 91 cents is spent in other parts of the economy, which has a multiplier effect higher than the mining, agriculture and financial services sectors.
"We need to ensure local and international visitors to our wonderful city have the best range of hotels possible, and that's why we are working closely with accommodation and tourism experts to help provide the rooms the market wants," the Lord Mayor said.
As part of the preparation of the plan, the City-commissioned research by Jones Lang La Salle in 2013, which predicted 5,800 new hotel rooms will be opened in the next seven years with around half of these already in the development pipeline.
Since the beginning of 2014, when work on the action plan was well underway, the City has received 25 new applications for visitor accommodation worth over $1 billion.
These developments will see approximately 1,600 new rooms added to existing visitor stock. Other hotel developments planned for Barangaroo and Darling Harbour will increase that number.
"One of the key recommendations of the action plan is that we continue our important work making Sydney a more attractive destination by upgrading our streets, parks and laneways, encouraging fine grain development, and maintaining our strong sponsorship program and support for major events," the Lord Mayor said.
"These projects and other major investments we're making like our $220 million to support light rail help make the city a richer, more vibrant place for businesses, residents and visitors."
Under the plan approved by councillors, the City will also produce a visitor accommodation development guide to assist developers with development applications.
The plan seeks to encourage different forms of visitor accommodation in the city, especially near transport links and major tourism developments including those at Darling Harbour.
More information about the Visitor Accommodation Action Plan is available from the City of Sydney website at <http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/towards-2030/business-and-economy/visitor-accommodation>.