Visitors flock to The Rocks and Darling Harbour

Visitors are flocking back to The Rocks and Darling Harbour, enticed by new and improved retail offerings, unique experiences and world-class events and entertainment, new research has revealed.

CEO of Property NSW, Brett Newman, said the NSW Government’s move three years ago to consolidate its property and placemaking functions along the Harbour foreshore into Property NSW had yielded strong dividends.

“The Rocks and Darling Harbour now attract more than 42 million visitors a year, an increase of two million visitors since 2015,” Mr Newman said.

“The significant public and private sector investment underway across both precincts, coupled with a fresh retail offering and the lure of world-class events, has seen visitors come back in droves.”

Latest figures show The Rocks attracted 15 million visitors in the past year (up four per cent year on year), and Darling Harbour, 27 million (up more than five per cent).

In Darling Harbour, the first full year of operation for the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) surpassed expectations, hosting more than 1000 events and drawing over one million visitors.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship also welcomed a record 230,000 visitors in the past year.

More visitors have translated into improved sales turnover for many retail tenants. At The Rocks, which has welcomed 30 new retailers over the past three years, sales have grown by five per cent.

Mr Newman said the sale of surplus assets along the Harbour foreshore had provided the funding to move the needle on major projects, including the restoration of heritage assets.

This year alone we’ve seen work commence on the $23 million renewal of the heritage-listed Pyrmont Bridge, the $15 million Campbells Cove upgrade, a $15 million upgrade of the wharves and jetties at Cockle Bay and the ongoing $15 million retail refresh at The Rocks.

Proceeds from select divestments, including the $191 million sale of the ground lease at Darling Quarter, will also help fund the $200 million upgrade of the Circular Quay ferry wharves.

“This public funding has been complemented by a multi-billion dollar investment by the private sector, including the new ICC Sydney, the Darling Square development, Grocon’s ‘The Ribbon’ and the redevelopment of Campbell’s Stores,” Mr Newman said.

“Darling Harbour and The Rocks have critical roles in capturing the tourist dollar, contributing $2.4 billion in direct and indirect benefits to the NSW economy,” Mr Newman said.

“We look forward to building upon the success and achievements of the past three years to create some of the most envied destinations in the world.”


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