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May 16, 2008

Shine Coming off the Olympic Turd

I've long been a non-fan of the Olympics in Sydney, arguing that it was no replacement for a real investment in the city. Now, it looks like even the supposed marketing advantages of the event have evaporated, as quickly the crowds at Homebush. The Shitney Morning Horror reports:

March statistics from Tourism Australia showed that Melbourne earned more from domestic tourism spending than Sydney - for just the second time in published records, according to the industry group Tourism & Transport Forum. Domestic overnight visitors to Melbourne also spend more per person - $698 - than visitors to Sydney, who spend an average of $610.

Once again - great cities need more vision than hubris; great public transport that it is affordable and reliable and easy to use instead of tunnels that noone drives through; an airport train service with carriages built for travellers with luggage that whisks you into the city center; bars that are licenced to serve coffee and alcohol without needing to buy food; boulevards that are clean and greened and attractive instead of tacky and smelly and dangerous, especially at night; cheap, plentiful, fast broadband; a city centre built for people on foot, not for private cars; public markets with locally grown produce that spring up daily or weekly in the middle of a city and which get public support, rather than wholesale produce markets that are scattered around the edges or huge supermarket chains that homogenize the food experience. One or two truly great, world-class hotels that reset the bar for global travellers and make them want to come just to stay there. Ideally too a world class newspaper that takes seriously the issues of the city, and the world. Instead of one that, in particular online, is increasingly tabloid and banal. Good weather, which I also hear of late has gone down the plug hole.

What Sydney does get right - our many cafes and, arguably, the world's greatest breakfasts. Fine restaurants. A beautiful harbour with some excellent foreshore areas set aside and maintained for the public.

We need to become great every day in Sydney instead of just relying on events like the Festival, the Olympics, Mardi Gras and others to bring people in in waves. Of course the headline events (except the really stupidly expensive ones with dreadful ROI like the Olympics) should continue, but to be world class and appealing takes a much more sustained investment and the competitive set is much, much greater than Melbourne.

Don't even get me started about how the buses won't run on World Anti-Condom Paedophile Day, or whatever it is that they call it.

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