(10am, Finance Room)
Good morning, everyone, welcome to the first panel meeting for 2015.
Firstly let me thank you all for the work you did last year. Since we inaugurated the panel in 2010, it has proved its worth in helping us all drive Sydney's appeal as a retail and tourist destination.
Andrea will be giving you a full Christmas 2014 report this morning, but there are a few highlights I'd like to mention.
Christmas is now a season of festivities running over five weeks, activated and supported by the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors. The City's own Christmas guide, which we produced in partnership with Time Out, showed this cohesive approach, with over 290 events listed across the season.
We know through our conversations with retailers, there was a measurable increase in both pedestrian traffic and in sales across the City.
We have also seen the growth of Chinese New Year as a major festival. Most Sydney hotels were close to capacity for the week's celebrations and retail destinations like QVB, David Jones, Westfield and luxury labels across the City and Haymarket reaped the benefits of the growing audience.
I thank all those shopping centres and stores who dress their shops to celebrate the festival and attract local and international visitors.
The festival also provides a significant boost for tourism, which is reflected in the increased spending on accommodation, restaurants, transport and retail.
We will continue our work with you, and with other partners, to build on Sydney's appeal to visitors and shoppers.
We're excited that the transformation of George Street into a pedestrian, retail and light rail boulevard will actually begin very shortly. It will be one of the most transformative things to happen in this City for a long time.
We will continue to position Sydney as a global city retail destination, and a place to experience major events such as the recent Asian Football Cup and Cricket World Cup.
We'll also continue on work on laneways and fine-grain retail spaces to encourage diverse and bespoke businesses.
And we will work with the retail and hospitality sectors through our master plan for energy efficiency to slash Sydney's greenhouse emissions, and help those sectors save on their energy bills.
So once again, I thank you for the work you have done thus far, and look forward to working with you this year.