August 6, 2019
Source: Daily Telegraph
Author: Danielle le Messurier
06 August, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: Clover Moore’s City of Sydney has been left red-faced after muddling the data it used to mount a case to scrap controversial lockout laws.
Council issued a press release this week saying “almost 500,000 fewer people under the age of 35 are visiting the city each year since the NSW Government introduced the lockout laws in 2014”.
The data was contained in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into Sydney’s night-time economy, which claimed “negative perceptions” had directly led to a decrease of 490,000 young people each year.
The source was attributed to the federal government’s Tourism Research Australia, which was puzzled when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.
“We were not able to match the data in terms of Sydney origin … and we do not report on the City of Sydney or anything to do with lockout laws,” a spokeswoman said.
TRA only publishes data on greater Sydney — it does not drill down into specific local government areas due to concerns about tourists overstating the city centre, leading to inaccurate data.
However companies can still access that data for a fee.
Tensions are high amid the state government’s decision to review lockout laws — which ban new customers after 1.30am — with Ms Moore criticising them as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
“In 2014 I warned the State Government that its lockout laws would have a devastating impact on the night-time economy … six years later, I’m sad to say these predictions were accurate,” she said this week.
When asked to explain how the data was extrapolated, the City supplied figures which reveal there has not been a decrease of 490,000 young tourists to Sydney CBD each year.
Rather, that figure was calculated by comparing visitor numbers of people aged 15-34 for the years ending 2013 and 2017.
The number of young visitors dropped significantly from 4.7 million in 2013 to 4.2 million in 2014 but actually increased for two consecutive years after.
Separate TRA data showed there was an 18.6 per cent increase in young tourists visiting the Sydney region from 2014 to 2018.
A City of Sydney spokeswoman said TRA custom reports showed “a total of 490,000 fewer people aged 15-34 visited Sydney in 2017 compared to 2013”.
She said this figure was “also reflected in 2014, 2015 and 2016”.
“(Council) formed a view that negative perceptions have led to this decrease based on TRA data and the 2018 Committee for Sydney analysis of visitor sentiment about Sydney’s night-life and its impact on tourism,” the spokeswoman said.
Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said large amounts of data were not necessary to know the lockout laws have “had a huge impact”.
“From an international perspective anecdotally we’re hearing that there’s a sensation that Sydney is not such a vibrant place to go to, it’s a bit ho-hum,” she said.
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Katherine O’Regan said the lockout laws had hit the city hard from an economic perspective.
“The numbers from a Deloitte Access Economics report estimates the Sydney’s night-time economy is missing out on $16 billion a year,” she said.