By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
Readers of this column may have come across the selfie I took with my daughter at the Sydney leg of Taylor Swift’s world tour last weekend. I have already unashamedly admitted to having a good time at the concert, and as I looked around at the 76,000 people packed into ANZ Stadium I thought about how fortunate we are to live in a global city that plays host to so many great major events.
That same weekend I attended the Australian Golf Open, which we recently announced would continue to be managed in partnership with Destination NSW for another eight years. I was also proud to announce the NSW Government had successfully lured yet another major international sporting event to Sydney.
College football is incredibly popular in the US and next August Sydney will host the American season opener between the University of California’s Golden Bears and the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors.
This is a major coup for our state and both teams will be bringing all of the action and colour of American college football, including cheerleaders, mascots and marching bands. The game will also be broadcast live across the US, giving NSW fantastic exposure to millions of Americans – and is expected to attract 15,000 domestic and international visitors to Sydney, providing a $10 million boost to the state’s economy.
I want NSW to be the undisputed home of major events in Australia and whether it’s Taylor Swift or American college football we are working to attract the biggest and best events.
We are making progress and, once again, NSW has been confirmed as Australia’s most popular destination, with more than 3.3 million international visitors spending time here, up six per cent compared to last year.
Victoria is well behind us and attracted 2.3 million visitors while Queensland attracted 2.2 million tourists and visitors. There was significant growth in the number of visitors from China (up 21 per cent) and for the first time China visitor expenditure in NSW exceeded $2 billion for the year ($2.2 billion). China remains the top market for international visitors to NSW with 536,000 visitors followed by New Zealand, USA and the UK.
World-class events are helping attract more people and Sydney is globally recognised as a destination for major sporting events having hosted the Opening Series of Major League Baseball, the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour, and football giants Manchester United, Juventus, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
We’ll continue working to attract big ticket events and will be spurred on by the latest figures that show international visitors to NSW spent more than $8 billion during the last 12 months – a 15 per cent increase on last year and a new record.
Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to think about the inspirational women in your community who are achieving great things publicly, or privately, and consider nominating them for the 2016 NSW Women of the Year Awards.
Previous winners include mining engineer and burns survivor Turia Pitt, pancreatic diseases researcher Professor Minoti Apte OAM, and volunteer and fundraiser Barbara Cowley.
Details on how to nominate can be found on the website, www.women.nsw.gov.au and nominations close on 13 January 2016. I look forward to attending the ceremony to announce the winners in March at NSW Parliament House.