New vouchers to revive Sydney CBD

23rd June 2021 | Eativity editors

With an increasing number of white-collar employees now working from home and overseas and interstate tourist numbers dropping by almost 100 percent, the once bustling Sydney CBD is now a virtual ghost town, particularly on Fridays – one of the most popular work-from-home days. In an attempt to revitalise the city and its struggling hospitality venues, the NSW government has announced a new $50 million stimulus package that aims to lure people back to the city, and they’ve got Friday on their mind.

The new “Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) voucher program will offer 500,000 NSW residents four $25 vouchers for use towards dining and entertainment experiences in the 2000 postcode – and they can only be used on Fridays. Unlike the original Dine & Discover voucher program, punters can use multiple TGIF vouchers in one go. Long lunch, anyone?

Sydney’s iconic George Street, once packed with workers, shoppers and tourists, is eerily quiet.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the vouchers will boost the city’s economy, support jobs and bring some “fizz” back to Fridays in the city. Not actual fizz, though – like the original Dine & Discover program, the vouchers can’t be used for alcohol.

“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,” he says. “It’s about making Fridays fun and, at the same time, helping the Sydney CBD, which has been hit hardest by COVID, with a reduction in CBD workers and the absence of overseas visitors.”

In April this year, short-term arrivals to NSW sat at just under 11,000 – a 96 percent decrease on pre-pandemic averages of around 234,000 visitors per month. However, according to the Property Council of Australia, office workers are slowly returning to the city, with office building occupancy at 59 percent in May. But with the latest COVID outbreak and the chance of another lockdown, these numbers may dwindle again.

An almost deserted Queen Victoria Building in April last year.

Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello says the TGIF voucher scheme will be a boon for businesses across the Sydney CBD. The program, which is expected to go live before summer, will again be delivered via the Service NSW app.  

“It will also be seamless for customers to access and use the vouchers, as there will be no need for them to re-prove their identity if they’ve already downloaded their Dine & Discover vouchers,” Dominello says. “The program will be inclusive, with a non-digital option available to customers without a smartphone.”

Further details, including how customers can register their interest for the program, will be released soon. Registration will be available through all Service NSW channels. For those who still haven’t used all their Dine & Discover vouchers, you’re in luck – the scheme has been extended by a month, and vouchers now won’t expire until July 31.