Madeline Crittenden

THE Harbour City has roared back to life in 2023, with the hospitality industry a major drawcard for both national and international visitors.

With dozens of bars and restaurants boasting harbour and city skyline views, it’s not hard to see why business is booming after two years of Covid lockdowns.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for December 2022 show that international arrivals into Australia have reached 60 per cent of the pre pandemic level in December 2019 and will continue to rise, while a survey commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum found more than half of Sydney and NSW residents holidayed in NSW this summer, rather than in other parts of Australia or overseas.

Celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s exclusive restaurant in the room at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s Pylon Lookout is booked out until October this year.

Luke’s Table opened in October 2021, after more than two years of planning.

“We opened last year and I’m still not sick of the view,” Mangan said. “I think it’s proving so popular because of the point of difference – you get the experience, food and matching wines and a bit of a history lesson too.

“The idea of getting it started was not just for Sydneysiders or Australians, but it was also for international tourism as well, to create something for people to come to and look forward to.”

With Mangan’s Glass Brasserie marking its 18th birthday this year and Luke’s Kitchen set to celebrate its first anniversary, the celeb chef said he was thrilled to finally see the city returning to its former glory – but would likely keep the Tuesday to Saturday schedule.

“Pre-Covid we were seven days a week but I don’t think we will go back to that model,” he said. “The reason for that is staffing.”

Business Sydney Executive Director Paul Nicolaou said as Sydney returns as an international destination: “We have a great responsibility to give our international visitors the experience they expect”.

“Many Sydney businesses are still in recovery mode and it is vital for the hospitality sector in particular to be incentivised to rebuild Sydney’s night time economy.”