Sydney’s lock-out laws relaxed and opinions in the backpacker tourism sector are dividedDecember 13th, 2016 | | Accommodation
A relaxation of Sydney’s lockout laws will be trialled following a review of the controversial measures. The relaxation by half an hour on the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks laws for live entertainment premises in Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD will be trialled for two years.
Premier Mike Baird may have gained some (albeit slight) popularity with the move but for tourism and the reputation of Sydney’s nightlife, not to mention the demise of some of the city’s biggest pubs and clubs, the damage may already be done.
We all now that backpackers arrive in the Kings Cross glitter strip expecting a thriving nightlife, but the reality is currently pretty grim and lots of backpackers are preferring to drink in their hostels to save themselves the hassle of ending a night at 3am. (Especially those from European countries where the trend is to go out late and stay out until sunrise.)
Opinion in the backpacker tourism sector, even from two hostels in the area, is divided. With one business happy with the review but still concerned with the initial changes, and another happy with the status quo and looking for a quieter Kings Cross.
Bruce Kennedy from Original Backpackers spoke to The Byte about the lock-out laws and the affect its had on his Kings Cross hostel and the area in general. “Although it’s not affected our business yet, it’s a long-term worry,” he said. “Bars and hostels are closing down around us – Sydney is in grave danger of losing its magic.”
But Joe Milne from Jolly Swagman Backpackers in Potts Point says that the laws prior to the review have actually improved his hostel. “We are in the business of selling sleep in a special backpacker environment, not a party,” he said. the strict laws can be a good thing for a business that want to avoid issues caused by a drunk and disorderly clientele.
“With less partying (and therefore less disturbance that goes with partying) we are in an even better position to provide restful accommodation and focus on improving the backpacker experience here in Sydney for our travelling guests.”
Mr Milne believes that internationals are fairly accommodating of a country’s rules and regulations, rather than hating on the city. “Some guests have said that they cant find anywhere to go at night time but seem quite accepting of this as normal,” he says. When asked if they were spending more time drinking in the hostel because of the lack of nightlife options he was adamant that they were not. “Drinking in the hostel is noticeably down from a few years ago!” Mr Milne said.
Bruce countered that it’s not just the fact that their nights are cut short, it’s the rigmarole of all the restrictions when trying to enjoy a night out. “We had a farewell for a French staff member at the Kings Cross Hotel and our 74 year old hostel owner wasn’t allowed in because he didn’t have ID. He’s 74 years old.” If you think that’s a joke, it’s not. He even wrote an open letter about this which was published in the Herald.
NOTE: The NSW state-wide ban on take away sales and home delivery after 10pm has also shifted to 11pm.
Will these new relaxed laws change anything or is it just smoke and mirrors? Have your say.
Written by Alex Harmon