'Friyay' in Sydney as govt funds CBD lunch
Workers will be tempted back into Sydney's CBD with the offer of $100 worth of vouchers to be spent at pubs and eateries on Fridays.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the $50 million scheme, to be included in Tuesday's budget, will be available to 500,000 people through Service NSW.
Four $25 vouchers - which can be used simultaneously - can only be used for Friday lunches in the Sydney CBD postcode 2000 area.
The treasurer is hoping the scheme will coax city workers back into the office on Fridays, instead of taking the option of working from home.
The vouchers will be available via the Service NSW app as a QR code, like the "Dine and Discover" vouchers set to expire in late July.
"This will be a targeted program designed to get more people back into the heart of the greatest city on earth and, on the way through, spend a little extra on retail and services businesses," Mr Perrottet said on Friday.
"It's about making Fridays fantastic and fun and at the same time helping the Sydney CBD which has been hit hardest by COVID."
The Australian Hotels Association welcomed the announcement, saying it would help struggling Sydney CBD hotels and pubs.
"Sydney's hotels have been struggling ever since the pandemic hit and are still only at 50 per cent capacity," AHA chief executive John Whelan said.
The Committee for Sydney also lauded the plan.
"I can't think of a better Australian tradition to revive right now than the long lunch ... in these tough economic times, it's practically a civic duty," committee chief executive Gabriel Metcalf said in a statement.
Lobby group Business Sydney added the scheme was "a great targeted stimulus" given the pandemic-induced lack of CBD patronage on Fridays.
Short-term arrivals to NSW in April were just under 11,000 - more than 95 per cent lower than the pre-pandemic average of 234,000 per month.
The "Dine and Discover" scheme kicked off in March and government data shows more than 4.2 million people in NSW have downloaded the vouchers.
The new vouchers will be rolled out before December.
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