That’s the message from George Souris, the new “super tourism’’ minister for Australia’s most populous state New South Wales.
“Whether it’s musicals, sporting events, racing, shows, there will be something on,’’ Mr Souris told Lunch Magazine.
“We are aiming to extend people’s stays that is the bottom line.’’
Mr Souris who holds the key ministries of Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing and the Arts, says the aggregation of portfolios under his rubric means it’s a top priority for the new government.
Spend a few minutes with the voluble tourism minister, as Lunch Magazine did recently, and you will agree that New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell made the right choice picking Mr Souris for this vital role.
The first portfolio covers hospitality liquor and gaming, pubs and clubs, and everything in between, including restaurants and The Star casino. The second is major events and that includes sports and the arts and the third is racing, including the $150 million upgrade of the city’s iconic Randwick Racecourse.
“While you might check what’s on, you can still just turn up and expect that something will be on,’’ Mr Souris said.
“We are trying to make sure there is nothing missing from the program.
“We have continuous offering musicals, big shows on and big shows coming.’’
He cited the world premiere of Strictly Ballroom, the return of the Lion King, the world premiere of An Officer and a Gentleman featuring the music from the movie, and Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Lyric Theatre.
“Next March will see La Traviata on the Harbour complete with a barrage of fireworks at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and a 10,000 piece chandelier,’’ he said, adding that the city had recently been voted the best festival and event city for the second year running by the international Festivals and Events Association.
“The idea is that it’s continuous. In the sporting arena we have the NRL grand final week, we have also locked in 10 years of the Bledisloe Cup one Saturday in Sydney, the next Saturday in Melbourne,” Mr Souris said.
He said NSW was not eschewing the tourism staples of the Harbour, the bridge, Bondi Beach and the Opera House, adding the city had recently been voted the world’s No 1 city in the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, beating New York, Paris and Cape Town to take out the influential award.
“We are creating a cultural heart. We don’t want to move away from the Opera House and Bondi. “These are anchor points but we don’t want them to do that by lunchtime and be off to somewhere else.’’
He said two other key locations were the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley.
“We are investing in regional tourism. The Sydney Festival will be spreading for the first time to Parramatta with a second Speigel Tent in there and give us a year or two and it will be spreading to a third location.’’
He nominated the Writers Walk- a series of brass plaques spaced from Circular Quay around to the Overseas Passenger Terminal – as something tourists should undertake.
“There is a little bit of a story about the writers and a famous passage they have written – what a great excuse to walk around the harbour.’’
He said he personally took visitors to the harbour on their first visit to Sydney.
“Then go to Manly or the Icebergs for lunch and go back to the harbour for dinner; take the smells and walk them from Circular Quay around the Rocks or even up to the Rocks for a beer.
“Then I take them to Blue Mountains the next day and the Three Sisters and Skywalk.
“And maybe to the Jenolan Caves, and back to Sydney at 5.30 pm; a preplanned show or a really good resatuarant but I would have preplanned a show at the Opera House, the Concert hall with that beautiful Tasmanian Oak panelling.’’
The next day would be a visit to the city’s most unsung tourist attraction, Taronga Zoo and then Manly by ferry.
“It’s the only zoo in the world on a harbour and I’d be sure to point out the Governor-General’s house.
That night would be a visit to one of the city’s new bars and the next day to the Hunter Valley and dinner at Bistro Molines or Margan Restaurant. Then back to Sydney and take it easy,” Mr Souris said.
Sydney and NSW’s vibrant dining scene has been recognised as the best in Australia in the latest edition of global travel bible Lonely Planet’s East Coast Australia guide. “For years the “fooderati” in Melbourne and Victoria have refused to acknowledge Sydney and NSW’s dining supremacy.
“Now the world’s most famous travel guide – Lonely Planet, headquartered in Melbourne – has put Sydney and NSW at the top of the Aussie food chain.”
For more information about Hunter Valley Food and Wine Month visit: www.hvwineandfood.hvva.com.au
Major events to be held in Sydney include and NSW include:
Harry Potter: the exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum Sydney from November 2011 – March 2012, Sydney exclusive
Richard III show starring Kevin Spacey at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney in December 2011, exclusive Sydney season
Sydney is home to first-run musicals, including World Premiere of An Officer and a Gentleman from May 2012, Australian Premiere of ANNIE from January 2012, Australian Premiere The Addams Family from March 2013 and World Premiere of Strictly Ballroom from September 2013
The Bledisloe Cup ten year deal, where at least one Bledisloe Cup game will be played in Sydney each year from 2012 to 2021
Sydney International Rowing Regatta, including the opening rounds of the Samsung World Rowing Cup at Penrith in 2013 and 2014
The first ever Australian Open of Surfing to be held in Manly in February 2012 in conjunction with Hurley and Billabong
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour held annually from March 2012
Sydney secured three World Cup Qualifier Games in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup
The Davis Cup World Group Play-off between Australia and Switzerland at Royal Sydney Golf Club
2015 Touch Football World Cup, including range of national and international Touch Football events from 2011 – 2015
2011 NAB AFL Draft secured for Western Sydney this November
Australian Open Grand Prix Gold (Badminton) at Darling Harbour in April 2012, moved from Melbourne.