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Sydney gets ready for major Convention Centre expansion

Sydney will at last get the world-class conference and entertainment venue it needs after the NSW government’s bold decision to open up all 12 hectares of its Darling Harbour land for redevelopment, the peak industry group Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) said.

Sydney will be reclaiming its position on ‘centre stage’ for hosting major international and national events with the creation of the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour expected to be completed by late 2016.

TTF Chief Executive John Lee has welcomed the invitation for expressions of interest (EoI) to develop the entire Sydney International Convention, Exhibition & Entertainment Precinct issued today by the Premier Barry O’Farrell.

“The Premier has recognised that getting the convention centre right is critical to the economic development of the state. We applaud the NSW government for widening the scope of the redevelopment to include the whole Darling Harbour precinct,” said Lee.

“We are pleased that the government has listened to industry’s concerns over the initial concept plan. The expanded scope of the EoI gives industry the flexibility to deliver not only world-leading exhibition, conference and entertainment facilities, but also to energise the entire strip from Cockle Bay to Haymarket through associated amenities.”

TTF recognises the considerable work undertaken by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority in getting the project to this stage, but welcomes the decision to move carriage of the project to Infrastructure NSW.

“This is the logical next step for such a project that will require a whole-of-government focus,” said Lee.

“Accommodation development will be critical to getting this facility right, as recognised in the EoI, but hotel construction needs to top the government’s priority list. Sydney will struggle to meet the demand generated by the facility without the appropriate accommodation as part of the development..”

TTF also encourages the NSW government to link this project with expanded facilities at Sydney Olympic Park, which will also be crucial to Sydney’s business events future.