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How did Adelaide revive its nightlife? It may serve as a good example for other cities

Posted September 3, 2019

Nightlife is what makes the city alive. It is also very important for city’s economy to be busy all 24 hours. Adelaide is a good example. One of the largest Australian cities started thriving at night after 2013, when legislators allowed entrepreneurs the opportunity to flourish at night. Now it is a good example how other cities can benefit from allowing small businesses more freedom.

Adelaide’s CBD area in downtown became alive once small businesses were allowed to thrive there. Image credit: Trentino Priori via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Michael O’Neil, one of the authors of the report, said: “Legislation passed in 2013 has given entrepreneurs the opportunity to flourish by offering innovative dining and socialising options not previously available in Adelaide. The large and continuously expanding number of small venues in the CBD confirms the growth of investment and start-ups in the sector. The new licence class has unleashed entrepreneurship in the city centre”.

CBD is northern part of Adelaide’s downtown. Before 2013 it wasn’t exactly dead – it was busy, but it wasn’t something you would call “lively” at night. Since then 109 licences have been granted, which revitalized the area and made it actually famous for its nightlife. In fact, now it is very busy, which is a good sign for the economy as well. It was noted in the report that licences created an estimated 1250 jobs.

One of the issues that policy makers were trying to change was violence in the city centre. They were aiming to change the drinking culture, to make it more civilized and safe. Small business owners did not have to prove a public ‘need’ for ‘unique’ venues in a particular location. Licences were given away quickly and without a hassle. Small places also pay lower annual licence fees than larger hotels and restaurants. Result – many more places in the centre of Adelaide, where people can meet and socialize. Visitors feel safer in the area, drinking culture is safer and classier and economy is thriving.

This could serve as an example for many other cities that struggle with excessive alcohol consumption and dead nightlife. People generally prefer smaller places to hang out, eat and drink. They also become sources of culture due to various events, concerts and comedy shows. Most importantly, it is a huge support for smaller businesses, which help combating unemployment and brings a boost to local economy.

We have to encourage entrepreneurship and create an environment where small businesses can feel welcome. Adelaide’s example shows that everyone benefits from that.


Source: University of Adelaide

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