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Al fresco boost for Sydney’s hospitality businesses

The City of Sydney has announced that it will waive all Al Fresco Dining permit fees until June 2022, as part of its commitment to support revitalisation of the CBD in the wake of the downturn hospitality business have experienced due to Covid.

Having initially committed $20 million to the cause, City of Sydney council has now pledged a further $5.7 million for Al Fresco activations. An amount of $3.5 million will go towards the extension of fee-free outdoor dining until June 2022 and an additional $2.2 million will be put towards inner-city events and activations.

“The city is bouncing back from its forced hibernation and we’re making it easier for more businesses to go Al Fresco, which will give our economy another major boost,” NSW Government Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said.

“We know people want to get back out and enjoy our great city, we’ve seen that with the success of the Sunset Piazza and Culture Up Late programs,” Perrotet added. “Making it easier for businesses to adopt Al Fresco dining has worked in tandem with the rollout of the Dine & Discover voucher program and provided the flexibility needed to help reignite our harbour city.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that 2690 square metres of outdoor space on roads and pavements has been reallocated for dining under the al fresco program to date.

“Waiving outdoor dining fees was one of the first things we did when the pandemic hit Sydney, to make it easier for restaurants, bars and cafes to operate while encouraging physical distancing,” the Lord Mayor said. “People have really embraced it, with participating businesses telling us they’ve taken on extra staff and seen increased patronage – a crucial aid to staying afloat in these difficult times.

“By working with the state government to cut through red tape and waive fees for outdoor dining permits, we’re supporting local businesses and allowing visitors, residents and workers to enjoy new outdoor dining experiences, Ms Moore added. “Covid is not over, and neither is our economic recovery. So, to support business and keep people healthy, outdoor dining will be free at least until the end of the financial year.”

A survey of restaurants and cafes participating in the Al Fresco City outdoor dining program highlights the boost the scheme has given to to the city’s hospitality businesses:

  • 90 per cent reported new outdoor dining was beneficial or even crucial to their business.
  • 45 per cent are employing an additional two or more staff a week.
  • 41 per cent have increased staff hours by 10 or more hours a week.
  • 58 per cent saw a turnover increase of up 10 per cent.

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting people, businesses and communities, which is why we’re working with the City of Sydney to unlock potential and create new opportunities,” NSW’s Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope, said.

“This initiative means venues can apply to transform car parking space into outdoor dining and some venues may request more footpath space to attract customers,” Tudehope added. “It is about greater certainty and opening up more capacity for venues so they can continue to host guests and serve top notch food and drinks.”

Paul Burnicle, general manager of the Dolphin Hotel on Crown Street, described the initiative as a “gamechanger” for small businesses in the hospitality sector.

“We’ve just had the roadside barriers installed and the space looks phenomenal,” Burnicle said. “It has really added another element to our venue and Crown Street as a whole. It’s great to see Sydney coming back to life after the year we’ve all endured. From start to finish, applying to final execution, the whole idea and process has been seamless. Kudos to all for making this happen.”

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