Visitors and customers

Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo

Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo is home to Kings Cross, one of Sydney’s most popular nightlife and entertainment precincts. It is therefore understandable that a large portion of visitation to the village occurs in the evening and night-time.

The village has a significant supply of visitor accommodation, and in particular it houses a third of all backpacker accommodation in the City of Sydney local area.

The presence of the nightclub precinct and the popularity of the village with backpackers adds to the vibrant, youthful and international character of the village. 

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Kings Cross and Potts Point visitor profile

A customer intercept survey in Kings Cross and Potts Point conducted in 2015 provides an understanding of the types of visitors to Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo and their behaviours.

Most visitors in Kings Cross and Potts Point were primarily young with over half of daytime visitors aged under 40 (53%). At night this became even more apparent with a large number of visitors under 30 (46%).

Overall quite a large proportion visited the area regularly with just under half of all visitors who live locally (48% of daytime visitors and 47% at night). A large majority walked or took the train to get to the local area (60% and 26% respectively during the day and 55% and 29% at night).

Most visitors were classified as ‘heavy’ visitors of Kings Cross and Potts Point (74% of daytime visitors and 64% at night). Visitors also tended to indicate they were primarily there to fulfil a specific purpose. Typically, for a drink or a meal, which increased during the evening (14% during the day, 22% at night).

The high demand for food in the area was reflected in half of all daytime visitors being classified as ‘heavy’ consumers of the food options available in Kings Cross and Potts Point (50% during the day, 43% during the evening).

Daytime visitors were less likely (than those at night) to have ever visited local entertainment venues (64% during the day, 76% during the evening) and there were relatively few ‘heavy users’ of the entertainment venues overall (15%).

Visitation patterns on Darlinghurst Road

When considering Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo, 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 conducted in 2013, with counts conducted on the main entertainment strip of Darlinghurst Road, near Kings Cross railway station. This chart shows that the peak of pedestrian activity on both weekdays and weekends occurs at night-time, which is undoubtedly related to the concentration of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs in the area. This is particularly noticeable on weekends where peak activity is observed after 11pm.

The focus of activity in this area in the evening and night time underpins that the nature of visitation to the area is primarily for dining and entertainment purposes, in particular large crowds of younger people are drawn to the pubs and clubs of Kings Cross. Recently the NSW Government imposed a 1.30am curfew on the area, with restrictions on selling alcohol after 3am and impacts on visitation patterns to the area are still being examined.

Chart 8 – Darlinghurst Road Pedestrian Counts, October 2013

Chart 8 – Darlinghurst Road Pedestrian Counts, October 2013

Visitor accommodation

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

Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo is a significant source of visitor accommodation, in particular for backpackers. As shown in Table 10, in 2012 the village had 2,115 backpacker beds, representing 34% of the total supply in the city centre. The village also experienced significant growth in supply for this type of accommodation, with the number of beds increasing by 512, or 32%, between 2007 and 2012. The majority of backpacker accommodation in the village is centred around Kings Cross. It is unsurprising that this area is popular with younger visitors given its international reputation as an entertainment and nightlife precinct, and its proximity to the city centre. In turn, the strong backpacker presence in the village adds to its international vibe.

The supply of hotel rooms was 2,128 in 2012, which is 10% of the total City of Sydney local area supply and represents a significant amount for a non-city centre village. Hotel supply in the village ranges from small budget hotels on Victoria Street and Darlinghurst Road to the high-end Blue Hotel on Finger Wharf. Meanwhile, although the supply of serviced apartments was relatively low it experienced strong growth, increasing by 29% between 2007 and 2012.

Table 10 – Visitor Accommodation, 2012

2007 2012 Change % Change
Hotel Accommodation (Rooms) 1,857 2,128 271 14.6%
Serviced Apartments (Units) 234 302 68 29.1%
Backpacker Accommodation (Beds) 1,603 2,115 512 31.9%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Contribution of tourists

While reliable data on the number of overnight visitors and their economic contribution is not available for areas as small as Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo, it is worthwhile considering data available for the wider City of Sydney local area, which gives an idea of the scale of their contribution.

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 large supply of visitor accommodation in the village it is likely that visitors make a significant contribution to the village economy. However given that a large proportion of this supply is in backpacker and budget accommodation average spending levels may be below those detailed in Table 11.

Table 11 – Overnight Visitor Characteristics, City of Sydney, 2013

Visitors (‘000) Visitor Nights (‘000) Average stay (nights) Average nightly expenditure*
Intrastate 1,462 2,758 1.9 $173
Interstate 2,504 6,176 2.5 $201
International 2,030 30,042 14.8 $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 Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo. The recent revival of Potts Point as a café strip shows that there is also significant demand during the day.

Analysis of tourist spending data highlights the potential benefits for local businesses in reaching out to this market. In particular it is worth noting the strong presence of backpacker accommodation in the village. This has led to a number of businesses who cater to this market.


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