Sydney’s underdeveloped night-time economy means city misses out on $16b, report finds

Lock-out laws introduced in 2014 to curb alcohol-related violence have been blamed for undermining the vibrancy of Sydney’s nightlife but the Deloitte report says growing the night-time economy is about much more than pubs and clubs.


A range of sectors would need to expand services after dark including arts and culture, retail and entertainment.

“A vibrant night-time economy creates a range of opportunities for providers and users; from 24-hour gyms and supermarkets to late-night art galleries, to extended shopping and transport choices,” the report says.

Executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber Patricia Forsythe said Sydney has probably undervalued the importance of its economy after dark.

“As density in the inner- and middle-ring suburbs increases, as it must, I expect we’ll start to see a shift in the night-time economy,” she said.

James Hulme, advocacy director for business group the Committee for Sydney, said coordination between the agencies and organisations that look after the night-time economy, both public and private, could be improved.

“As the city grows, particularly in areas like western Sydney, we must plan for new areas to have a great night-time offer embedded in them,” he said.

The Deloitte report, called ImagineSydney: Play, also evaluates the contribution made by sport, recreation, arts and culture to the city’s economy.

It estimates Greater Sydney spends $3.2 billion each year on sport and physical recreation and Sydneysiders spend almost four hours a week on average partaking in sport and physical recreation.

More than 3.5 million domestic and international overnight visitors travelled to NSW in 2016-17 to participate in or attend a sporting event.


Sydney’s arts and cultural sector employs nearly 47,000 people with the largest share in media production and broadcasting (36 per cent) followed by music, performing and visual arts (20 per cent).

The report said Sydney has the largest proportion of people employed in arts and culturally associated work in the country (2.24 per cent) followed by Melbourne (1.76 per cent)

A Deloitte survey found 75 per cent of Sydneysiders participate in some form of arts and culture activities.

The total economic visitation value of arts and cultural infrastructure and events in NSW is $1.4 billion per year and the value of this to broader society is $484 million per year, the report said.

“A more innovative workforce is built on exposure to the arts and culture, and the richness of a city’s arts sector is crucial to attracting and retaining talent,” says Deloitte’s Kathryn Matthews.

Matt Wade is a senior journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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