Visitors and customers

Chinatown and CBD South

Chinatown and CBD South receives a large amount of visitation from a number of market segments, including workers, tourists and shoppers and diners from elsewhere in Sydney. Pedestrian counts have shown that the precinct is busiest on weekday nights, driven by the plethora of dining options as well as bars and pubs.

The range of ‘finegrain’ businesses within the village, particularly the retail and restaurant businesses, provide a range of small scale and diverse options that attract significant visitation to the area due to their innovative product offerings.

There is also a significant supply of visitor accommodation and tourist attractions in the village, which supports significant tourist visitation from interstate and overseas. 

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Haymarket visitor profile

A customer intercept survey in Haymarket conducted in 2015 provides an understanding of the types of visitors to Chinatown and CBD South and their behaviours.

Overall the survey results suggest Haymarket attracts a range of visitors from outside the area with only a small proportion living locally (6 to 8%). There was a strong presence of people from overseas (22% daytime) and this was also reflected in the same proportion who were using paid accommodation (22%).

In terms of attractions, the food options were a clear driver of attendance to the Haymarket precinct, particularly during the evening (35%). This was aided by the popular Chinatown Night Markets on Friday evening that provide a wide array of food.

Paddy’s Market was also a major drawcard with close to half indicating they had or would visit (48% on Saturdays).

The respondent base in Haymarket was fairly mixed and diverse but there was a relatively young demographic present, particularly on Friday evenings (45% daytime, 55% Friday evening). This younger respondent base was also reflected in the large proportion currently living at home or in shared households (44%).

However, household make up tended to be quite diverse on the whole, with close to half living in a 1 or a 2 person household (46%), and with over a third living in a household with more than 4 people (39%). The proximity to local universities ensured there was high representation of students (29%), while 25% were professionally employed (29% on Friday evenings).

Visitation patterns on George Street

When considering visitation to Chinatown and CBD South, analysing the pattern of pedestrian movements in the village is instructive on the nature of visitation to the village.

Chart 8 shows the results of a pedestrian study in 2013, with counts conducted on George Street near the corner of Liverpool Street, one of the busiest pedestrian thoroughfares in the city. This chart shows contrasting visitation patterns on weekdays and weekends, with the weekday peak occurring between 7pm and 8pm, while the weekend peak occurred around 1pm to 2pm.

Weekday visitation patterns show that the village has a strong night time economy, supported by the central location and the plethora of restaurants, bars and pubs that populate the village. Peak activity is earlier than other nightlife districts, such as Kings Cross, and suggests that visitation to the village is being driven more by the dinner-time and after-work drinks crowds.

In contrast, visitation on weekends peaks around the middle of the day, with another spike around 5pm to 6pm. This suggests a lunchtime and shopping crowd are probably more important on weekends. The weekend peak is also significantly lower than the weekday peak, suggesting that the office worker market present in the village on weekdays is an important driver of activity in the village.

Chart 8 – George Street Pedestrian Counts*, October 2013

Chart 8 – George Street Pedestrian Counts*, October 2013

Visitor accommodation

The 2012 Floor Space and Employment Survey details the supply of visitor accommodation available within Chinatown and CBD South, providing a broad indicator of the capacity of the area to accommodate overnight visitors.

Overall, the supply of visitor accommodation across all 3 categories was significant. In 2012, the village contained 23% of the total City of Sydney local area's supply of hotel rooms, 36% of all serviced apartments, and 35% of all backpacker beds.

Between 2006 and 2012, there was strong growth in the village supply of backpacker beds (64.7%) and serviced apartments (30.9%), while the number of hotel rooms also increased by a solid 9.9%.

The high level of tourist accommodation supply in the village is driven by its central location and strong transport connections. 

There is a broad range of accommodation options in the village, from budget to high-end, attracting visitors from a wide range of backgrounds. The strong presence of tourists within the village helps support local businesses through increased patronage and higher spending levels. 

Table 10 – Visitor Accommodation, 2012

2007 2012 Change % Change
Hotel Accommodation (Rooms) 4,197 4,612 415 9.9%
Serviced Apartments (Units) 1,233 1,614 381 30.9%
Backpacker Accommodation (Beds) 1,327 2,185 858 64.7%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Contribution of tourists

Table 11 shows data from Tourism Research Australia (TRA) on overnight visitors to the Statistical Area level 2 known as Sydney-Haymarket-The Rocks in 2013.

Being the focal point of tourism activity within the City of Sydney local area, the village is likely to receive the majority of this visitation, and indeed TRA estimates show that around 83% of the total visitor nights in the City of Sydney are spent in the statistical area of Sydney-Haymarket-The Rocks, which covers Chinatown and CBD South as well as CBD and Harbour.

Table 11 shows data from Tourism Research Australia (TRA) on overnight visitors to the City of Sydney in 2013. It shows that interstate visitors have a slightly higher spend per night than intrastate ones ($201 versus $173).

While the spend per night for international visitors is significantly lower at $100, their trip duration is much longer, making the overall contribution per trip higher than domestic visitors.

Given the significant level of visitor accommodation within the village, combined with the number of tourist attractions, it is likely that Chinatown and CBD South businesses will receive a significant share of their nightly expenditure. 

Table 11 – Overnight Visitor Characteristics, Sydney – Haymarket – The Rocks SA2, 2013

Visitors (‘000) Visitor Nights (‘000) Average stay (nights) Average nightly expenditure*
Intrastate 1,262 2,274 1.8 $173
Interstate 2,324 5,720 2.5 $201
International 1,884 24,209 12.8 $100
*Estimates for Metropolitan Sydney in 2012/13
Source: Tourism Research Australia

What does this mean for my business?

Studies of visitation to the village underscore the importance of the night-time economy to Chinatown and CBD South. This is particularly strong on weekdays, driven by the dinner and after-work drinks crowds. The presence of a number of significant visitor segments, including office workers and tourists, also helps supplement the local resident market.

With a significant supply of visitor accommodation and a number of tourist attractions in the area, it is clear that tourists will contribute a significant amount to the village economy. Analysis of tourist spending data highlights the scale of this contribution.


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: Thursday, 20 August 2015