A year after Australia’s international borders reopened, visitors are returning to Sydney as tourism recovers but the city’s visitor information services need an urgent upgrade.
Business Sydney Executive Director Paul Nicolaou said international visitors in particular are being let down by the lack of professional services in accessible locations.
Mr Nicolaou said a comprehensive visitor information centre should be located in the heart of The Rocks, where one was previously located, and another at Sydney Airport.
His call was supported by Ann Lorenz, President of the Institute of Australian Tour Guides, who said her members wanted to give visitors the “best Aussie experience” offering sound local knowledge, up-to-date information and accurate history.
“Professional visitor services can help with smooth transitions from airports and seaports to city hotels, attractions and restaurants,” Ms Lorenz said.
“Our experience ensures that conferences and events run on schedule when visitors are supported with good information services.”
Ms Lorenz said Sydney had its share of visitor black spots, which included:
● Inadequate coach access to the Sydney Opera House
● Insufficient parking time outside city hotels for visitors to load and unload luggage
● No allowance for visitor access to the Sydney Modern Art Gallery
● Inadequate transport and facilities at White Bay Cruise Terminal
Mr Nicolaou and Ms Lorenz responded to new figures that showed international arrivals in Australia were increasing with the number in December 2022 reaching 60 per cent of the pre-pandemic level in December 2019.
“It is good to see that the number of international visitors is increasing steadily but we need to get serious about the services we provide to visitors,” Mr Nicolaou said.
“It is not a good picture at the moment with problems such as street signage pointing to a visitor information centre in The Rocks that no longer exists.
“Visitors are no doubt left confused because the only centre that now exists is hidden away on the ground floor of Customs House at Circular Quay and with limited opening hours.
“Visitor information services in the city and at Sydney Airport are provided by enthusiastic, public-spirited volunteers who are to be commended for their service.
“However, services of this kind should be on a professional footing with all of the services visitors need and with the opening hours to match.
“A full service centre is needed in The Rocks, a mecca for international tourists including the city’s cruise visitors arriving at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, with another located at Sydney Airport’s international terminal.”