The return of the Vivid festival has seen Sydney hotels experience their best weekend occupancy rates since 2019, according to figures released by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA). 

TAA chief Michael Johnson said hotel bookings jumped above 80 per cent for the first time since the pandemic began, with visitors flocking into the harbour city from across regional NSW and other states.

“This is a far cry from last year when entire floors of hotels were closed. Some accommodation hotels were actually shut due to the lack of visitors,” Johnson said.

“The economic flow-on effects to pubs, restaurants and other small businesses in the CBD will be in the millions over the three-week event.”

Data for the last week of May – which included the launch of Vivid – showed revenue per available room up 65.5 per cent against the same week in May last year. 

TAA says occupancy rates peaked at close to 83 per cent on May 28 and may have gone higher without labour shortages and hotel capping.

Accommodation Association CEO Richard Munro said the success of Vivid highlights the hospitality labour shortage, arguing some venues were unable to take advantage of Vivid’s popularity. 

“It’s ironic many hotels have to turn travellers away because they don’t have enough staff, after two years of having staff but no travellers,” Munro said.

TAA says it will be working closely with the new federal government on the issue and has welcomed the Albanese government’s recent $10m initiative towards promoting Australians back into the hospitality industry.

The news comes after renewed efforts by Michael Rodrigues, NSW 24 Economy Commissioner, to return crowds to the Sydney CBD.

Making a comeback after two years of COVID-19 cancellations, Vivid Sydney runs through to June 18 with lights on from 6pm to 11pm.

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