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The NTIA Recovery Brunch
Photograph: Supplied/Cass Hannigan

A collective of Sydney hospo leaders have united to plan the city’s nightlife recovery

It involved more than 80 experts from the hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon

The pandemic has been a huge challenge for hospitality businesses and not just during lockdown. The ascent of localism, changes in consumer habits and on-again-off-again restrictions over the past two years, have fundamentally altered the way Sydney’s population engages with the after-dark economy meaning business strategies that were tried and true before 2020 are no longer as reliable.

But if the hospo scene in Australia has proven anything during the era of Covid, it’s that the industry is capable of feats of resilience greater than any could have predicted prior to the pandemic. Harnessing that tenacity has inspired a gathering of hospitality heavyweights to form a think tank capable of innovating past the current challenges facing bars, restaurants and late-night and entertainment venues in Sydney. Gathered by the Night Time Industries Association and Sydney Fringe, 80 top advocates, operators and media experts came together on March 4 for a blue-sky strategy session, over brunch, at the Famous Spiegeltent, which is currently pitched at First Fleet Park by CIrcular Quay.

The pandemic, as gruelling and traumatic as it has been for just about all of us, is also likely to be remembered as a time of silver linings, and this was very much the tone of the detailed conversations that were had at this recovery brunch, which framed the current hurdles as offering a “once in a lifetime opportunity to make real and sustainable change to benefit the hospitality sector and others in its ecosystem.”

Chair of the Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) Justine Baker has said that an action plan is now being developed based on the input of the 80 participants of this pioneering initiative. “Solving complex problems takes true collaboration and inclusion. The NTIA gathered stakeholders from the arts, music, hospitality, policy, accommodation, festivals, tourism, associations, beverage, government, property and media sectors to workshop key issues surrounding the recovery of our nightlife,” Baker said. “The output will be distilled into a concise action plan that the NTIA will lead in collaboration with our members and other key players. It’s time to shake the risk-conscious thinking that was critical to our survival over the last two years, and re-engage audiences and teams to work together to build a safe, vibrant, exciting and sustainable future.”

The action plan is set to be released at the end of April 2022.

Time Out spoke to Justine Baker and club owner Dane Gorrel about why Sydney is well overdue for a nightlife renaissance. 

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