SYDNEY is staging a comeback, moving up a place in the ranks of the most popular cities to visit, an influential survey of international travellers shows.

On the eve of one of the largest influxes of people the city has seen, Sydney has risen from fifth to fourth place in the annual World’s Best Cities survey by Travel + Leisure magazine. Sydney has been voted the best city a record eight out of 13 times but last year fell to fifth place.

Anthony Dennis, the publisher of Travel + Leisure Australia, which is published by Fairfax Magazines, said the city had been complacent.

“The NSW Government has been criticised in recent years for not doing enough to capitalise on the success of events like the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup in 2003, but this result indicates that Sydney still rates highly among travellers in comparison to other great world cities,” said Mr Dennis.

Last month the sports administrator, John O’Neill, issued a scathing report on the State Government’s handling of tourism since the 2000 Olympics. The Government recently announced a $40 million package over the next three years to revive Sydney’s flagging tourism industry and promised an overhaul of the city’s attractions and the way it markets itself.

Latest figures show Australia is failing to keep pace with the rest of the world, with the number of tourists in May growing by just 0.2 per cent for the first five months of the year, compared with global growth of 5 per cent.

Compared with other states since 2000, NSW’s share of international visitors has dropped by 4.5 per cent, according to analysis by the industry body, Tourism and Transport Forum.

Melbourne was voted the second best city in the region and Tasmania ranked as one of the top 10 islands in the world.


* Bangkok

* Buenos Aires

* Cape Town

* Sydney

* Florence