Is Melbourne the next “City that never sleeps?”

New York, Las Vegas, Berlin, Hong Kong, and many others have earned the illustrious title of “City that Never Sleeps” and Australia’s own Melbourne might soon join those ranks.

Already the world’s most liveable city for a sixth consecutive year, and steadily making a name for itself as Australia’s food capital, Melbourne is on its way to becoming the country’s first real 24 hour city. In a move completely contrasted against Sydney’s night-life restrictions and lock-out laws, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle plans to activate Melbourne.

Savvy travellers, domestic and international alike, already flock to Melbourne in the millions. In fact, in 2016, Melbourne saw 1.5 million international guests, and 8.6 million inter-staters. While Sydney still leads the way, visitation is decreasing on previous years. Visits to Melbourne, on the other hand, increase year by year (9.6% increase in international and 13.3% increase on domestic visitors compared to 2015).

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Melbourne’s trendy Centre Place | Photo credit: Where to tonight

Travellers are enthusiastic about Melbourne’s diverse entertainment venues, its expansive food districts, its exciting sporting events, and its amazing shopping opportunities. Becoming a 24-hour city is going to make Melbourne a visitor’s paradise.

Other major cities are restricting access to nightclubs, hoping to limit alcohol-fuelled violence in the streets, so what will happen as Melbourne does the opposite? Well if alcohol is the problem, then Melbourne is already leading the way.

According to the National Local Government Drug and Alcohol Committee’s latest Australian Night Time Economy (NTE) Report, food sales are up and alcohol sales are down.

“This is further evidence that our policies to normalise and activate the city after dark are working: 1am is the new 11pm,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said.

But is a decrease in alcohol consumption really enough?

Other 24-hour cities around the world are notorious for crime. Las Vegas, for example, has one of the highest crime rates in the United States, and yet, New York City is seeing a steady decline. After well-documented drug-related spikes in the 80s and 90s, New York’s crime rate is now lower than the average for big cities. It’s the lowest it has been since 1963.

The City of Melbourne has a vision and a strong plan, and that is that “people feel safe, connected and able to participate in city life at any time of the day or night” (Beyond the Safe City Strategy 2014–17).

But it doesn’t stop there. Last year, 24 hour public transport became available on weekends. Together with extra transit police, this made it easier for revellers to get to and from their destinations safely at all hours of the night.

And if visitors aren’t spending big on alcohol, taxis or parking, they’re spending on cuisine and entertainment.

After all, there is a lot more to do in a city like Melbourne than drink.

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Melbourne by night

Twinkling night markets spread out beneath a canopy of fairy lights beckoning thrifty shoppers to purchase crafty wares. Laughter can be heard spiling from the nearest venues as the comedy festivals come into season. Street performers wow the crows as dazzling light displays illuminate the city. As for the foodies, well they simply love Melbourne. In 2013 alone, the night-time economy enjoyed $2.5 billion in sales and over 60% of that was in food.

“This also means more jobs: there have been 1900 additional people employed in our food industries over the past five years which is three times greater than any other Australian city,” Mr Doyle said.

Melbourne is on its way to not only holding the mantle for the world most liveable city, but also its most visitable.

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