Let in more planes, build more hotels, says tourism study

THE aircraft movement cap at Sydney Airport should be increased and more planes allowed to land during the early morning, says a taskforce commissioned to plot a strategy to boost NSW tourism.

The Visitor Economy Taskforce has also recommended the state government consider incentives to increase the amount of hotel accommodation in Sydney, including altering planning laws to allow hotel developers to build higher in the CBD.

The taskforce was appointed by the government to develop a strategy to double tourism expenditure in NSW to $36.6 billion by 2020.

Its chairman, Russell Balding, said tourism expenditure in NSW was growing an average 2.2 per cent a year, but this would need to rise to more than 7 per cent to reach the target.

It was ''ambitious'' but could be achieved if ''bold action is taken by the government and by industry working together.''

The taskforce report makes 48 recommendations, including development of a brand strategy for key NSW destinations.

Tourism marketing should focus on the ''top target markets'' of China, Britain, South Korea, the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Germany and Indonesia.

The taskforce says NSW has been losing market share of international visitors from tourism growth centres such as China to other states, particularly Victoria.

It says a 7 per cent per year increase in passengers arriving at Sydney Airport is needed to achieve the 2020 target, but the airport's master plan forecasts passenger growth of 5.6 per cent, or 80 per cent of what is required.

To address the shortfall, the state government should call on the federal government to increase the hourly cap of aircraft movements during the peak from 80 to ''at least'' 90.

It should also be called on to increase landings allowed during the morning shoulder curfew period of 5am to 6am from 24 to 35, the taskforce recommends.

Mr Balding, a former chief executive of Sydney Airport Corporation, acknowledged the political sensitivity of the issue due to aircraft noise.

But he said the ''artificial constraints'' were having a ''significant impact on the economic benefits that would flow to this city and this state'', pointing to KPMG research estimating that the changes could increase expenditure by up to $925 million a year.

The NSW Tourism Minister, George Souris, said while the government has yet to formulate an official response, his view was ''very much in line with the taskforce's recommendations''.

However, the federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, said the federal government would not make changes to the current cap or curfew.

The taskforce says the state government should consider incentives for developers to stimulate construction of more hotels, which do not offer financial returns equivalent to residential development.

It notes there has been ''a lack of planning incentives'' such as making government-owned sites available.

The report did not consider the option of building a second airport. The government is expected to respond by the end of the year.

The story Let in more planes, build more hotels, says tourism study first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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