Local area profile for business

CBD and Harbour is the main commercial centre of Australia drawing thousands of visitors each day with its harbour views, iconic landmarks and major cultural institutions.

Aside from being a world-renowned tourist destination the area is a regional financial hub with a global city status, and the high-rise office buildings are home to a large number of highly-paid white collar workers.

Alongside the high-rise office buildings are areas of historical significance such as The Rocks and Walsh Bay, which provide a unique offering particularly for small businesses.

The small residential population, mainly comprised of high income professionals, is dispersed throughout the area in apartment buildings and heritage terraces.

Due to the dynamic nature of the city centre, there are many infrastructure projects currently planned and underway, which will improve accessibility and further enhance visitation from tourists, workers and residents.

View the visitor score cards for the area.

The economic profile summaries below link to more detailed information.


CBD and Harbour is the prosperous hub for office-based employment and activities, and is the thriving retail heart of Sydney underpinned by workers, tourists and residents in a constant core of activity.

Yet despite an intense level of development the area still retains many of Australia’s most historic sites and buildings, including iconic museums, theatres and galleries, as well as world-class parklands.

The area is home to a small but diverse population, living in apartment towers, heritage terraces and public housing.


CBD and Harbour has a small resident population living mostly in apartments buildings, many of which are highly-paid professional workers.

Population (2014)* 8,498
Median Household Income (2011)** $101,679 (34.8% above Metro median)
Average Age (2011)** 40.0 (7.8% above Metro average)
*Estimate based on projections by Forecast
**Census estimates


Being the commercial centre of Sydney, CBD and Harbour has a significant presence of professional and financial services firms, which tend to be larger in size.

Retail businesses also have a significant presence due to the area’s status as one of Sydney’s pre-eminent shopping destinations.

Employing Businesses

Employing Businesses (2012)


Top 3 Industries by Number of Employing Businesses

Professional & Business Services (23.6%)
Retail & Personal Services (15.5%) 
Finance & Financial Services (14.8%)

Proportion of Employing Businesses with less than 20 Employees

80.2% (LGA average = 84.8%)

Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney


CBD and Harbour has the largest concentration of workers in the City of Sydney. This is dominated by white collar office workers in the finance and professional service industries, befitting Sydney’s status as a regional financial hub.

Workers (2012) 226,972
Top 3 Industries by Workforce Finance & Financial Services (36.6%) Professional & Business Services (23.5%) Government (5.4%)
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Visitors and customers

Due to the presence of office workers, tourists and shoppers, visitation to CBD and Harbour is consistently high throughout the day and at different times of the week. The village contains one of the highest proportions of visitor accommodation in the local area, meaning tourists are a significant contributor to the economy.

Hotel Rooms 9,460 (47% of LGA total)
Serviced Apartments 1,491 (33% of LGA total)
Backpacker Beds 795 (13% of LGA total)
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Future Outlook

Continued development in the CBD will underpin future growth in the resident population and workforce. Significant infrastructure projects will also improve accessibility and drive further visitation through new attractions.

Forecast Average Growth
No. per annum per annum
Residents* 472 3.9%
Workers** 3,135 1.2%
*Source: id Forecast
**Source: NSW Bureau of Transport Statistics
Your village contacts
City of Sydney
Business Precinct Coordinator
CBD Sydney Chamber of Commerce
Executive Officer: Peter May
  • Level 23, 45 Clarence Street
    Sydney NSW 2000
  • 02 9350 8103
  • 0437 872 052
  • Email
Walsh Bay Arts and Commerce
Chair: Kim Mahaffy
  • Shop 1, 18 Hickson Rd,
    Walsh Bay NSW 2000


This information has been compiled from various sources. The publisher and contributors accept no responsibility for any injury, loss or damage arising from the use, error or omissions therein. While all care is taken to ensure a high degree of accuracy, users are invited to notify the City of Sydney of any discrepancies. No part of this information, including maps or data, may be reproduced without written permission.

Last updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2018