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Sydney Opera House worth $4.6b to Australia

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17 October 2013: The Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s key assets, contributing $775 million to the Australian economy every year and with a cultural and iconic value of $4.6 billion, according to a new report by Deloitte released for the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House.

Economic contribution

The Sydney Opera House is the symbol of Australia. In the 2011/2012 financial year alone, it attracted almost 1.4 million people to more than 1,800 performances.  Yet its financial value to Australia goes far beyond ticket sales. In 2012-13, it contributed an estimated $141 million in direct value added to the Australian economy from its performances and events, as well as the site’s bars, shops and restaurants. It contributed a further $113 million indirectly, through the reach of its supply chains into other sectors. 

However, as a national icon and tourist destination, Sydney Opera House’s value is much greater. After accounting for a degree of overlap between tourism expenditure and expenditure on the Opera House precinct, the total value added by the Sydney Opera House from its activities on the precinct and in attracting tourists to Australia is estimated by Deloitte Access Economics to be $775 million per year.  The Sydney Opera House was also estimated to contribute 8,439 full-time equivalent jobs directly, indirectly, and through tourism.

Experiential and cultural value

Beyond its economic contribution, the Sydney Opera House is of great experiential and cultural value in Australia and around the world – so much so that people who have not actually visited the building value the fact that it simply exists.

As part of the Deloitte report, a survey of over 3,000 Australian and international residents was fielded by Stancombe Research & Planning to assist in measuring the Opera House’s contribution to national identity and its broader cultural and iconic value. This revealed that:

  • The venue and performances are worth 38% more than ticket sales, for a total consumer value of $125 million a year, because of the additional value ascribed by audiences and the unique choice they offer. That is to say, a person attending an Opera House performance values the experience of being there 38% more than attending the same performance elsewhere
  • The intangible cultural, iconic and national identity value perceived by all Australians – representing ‘non-use’ values, not just its value to those that attend performances - is worth $2.1 billion over the next 40 years (as a 40-year present value).

In total, the social asset of the Sydney Opera House is worth $4.6 billion (see chart below).

Source: Deloitte Access Economics analysis

A key Australian brand and tourist attraction

The Opera House is also a key asset in attracting tourist dollars to Australia.  “More than half of surveyed tourists from China, the US, UK and New Zealand said the Opera House was their main reason for visiting Sydney,” said Deloitte Access Economics Partner, Dr Ric Simes, one of the report’s authors. “In 2012 it drove the spending of $640 million tourist dollars in Sydney.  As we identified in our recent Building the Lucky Country report, tourism is set to double in size in the next 20 years, with Asia’s expanding middle classes fuelling the growth. The Opera House is a key attraction for them and other visitors to Australia.”

It is not just overseas tourists that place a high value on the Opera House. The Deloitte report found that 77% of Australian residents believe it makes a significant contribution to Australia’s culture.

In 2013, the Brand Asset Valuator, a tool developed by Young and Rubicam and used by many commercial organisations in Australia and worldwide, showed the Sydney Opera House demonstrated great brand strength and differentiation:

  • Among early adopters and innovators over 40 years of age, it’s considered the most distinctive brand in the country, ahead of Apple’s iPhone. For the same audience, its uniqueness ranks second only to the brand of Australia itself
  • Considered internationally, the Sydney Opera House brand is more relevant and esteemed overall than the national brand: Australia itself. This demonstrates the critical and dynamic role Sydney Opera House plays as an aspect of Australia’s international appeal now and in the future.

“When we’re talking about brands, the Sydney Opera House is quite simply Australia’s best,” said Deloitte partner and chief marketing officer David Redhill. “Forty years ago it was one of the biggest, bravest ideas we’d taken on as a nation, employing multiple new technologies and techniques, sourcing global design talent, and always likely to take a few government cycles to complete. Today, it’s repaid the faith Australia had in it; nothing else in Australia commands the same degree of universal admiration or affection as the Opera House. The brand and economic research now backs up what many Australians have known for years.”

Significant digital potential

The report also analysed the Opera House as a digital entity, considering opportunities for future value creation in the digital world. It found that the Opera House currently has a significant digital footprint, with scope for even greater digital impact in the future:

  • The Sydney Opera House has online digital reach of 128 million, 93% of which comes through Facebook
  • Since 2009, over 600 pieces of video content have been created, from exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, live streamed and recorded full performances to the production of award-winning music video
  • In the last financial year, 4.2 million people watched video of Sydney Opera House performances online via YouTube and the House’s own Play channel
  • Based on the Deloitte research, future viewings of online performances could grow to 94 million per year.

Frank Farrall, National Leader, Deloitte Digital, said “Increasing its use of digital technology allows the Opera House to break the constraints of its physical location and bring its performances, artists and the iconic venue itself to audiences far beyond the walls of the building. In particular, its investment in video shows the future potential of its digital reach to increase the public’s engagement with it.”

“The value of the Sydney Opera House to Australians’ sense of identity, as a symbol of Australia overseas and as an economic resource, is well established,” said Sydney Opera House CEO, Louise Herron.  “As we reflect on the past 40 years, this report demonstrates that the Opera House’s consumer value, digital footprint and brand perception provide it with a huge opportunity to build on its existing strengths and capitalise on vast new local and international audiences over the next 40 years and beyond.”


Media contacts:

Ben Findlay
Communications Director
Tel: +61 2 9322 7576
Mob: 0404 157 121

Vanessa Duscio
Sydney Opera House
Head of Media
Tel: +61 2 9250 7678

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