In a shock loss, the founder of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge climbs has lost a government tender to continue operating the attraction, stating the decision marks “the end of a wonderful era”.
Speaking exclusively on the My Business Podcast last year, BridgeClimb founder and chairman Paul Cave recalled the unfathomable effort and perseverance it took to make climbing ‘the coathanger’ a reality.
“I had a two-year business plan and that took 10 years so it was a long time. I think during that period when the concept of climbing the bridge ... I actually thought we’d find something else somewhere else in the world that we could replicate. We didn’t find something else,” Mr Cave said, noting that the process was longer than it took for the bridge to be built in the 1930s.
However, 20 years after BridgeClimb Sydney opened its doors, the business and its staff will be forced to make way for a new operator after the NSW Government awarded the tender for the next 20 years to a competing tourism business.
“On 15 June 2018, it was announced by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) that BridgeClimb Sydney had been unsuccessful in its bid to win a new 20-year contract to operate on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” the company said in a statement.
“BridgeClimb has summited 4 million climbers from over 140 countries since opening on 1 October 1998. BridgeClimb turned the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a postcard to a global bucket list experience.
“The climb is renowned as a world-class experience and operation, and has an unblemished safety record, without one serious injury in 20 years.”
In the statement, Mr Cave thanked all of his staff past and present for helping to create “unforgettable memories”.
“Our team have worked tirelessly to deliver the ultimate experience of Sydney. Over 1,500 team members have made a hero of the bridge, and of every single climber and visitor since 1998. Every one of our past and present team can hold their heads high on what we have created together.”
Mr Cave declined to comment further.
The new operators, the Hammon Family, will take over the attraction from 1 October 2018.
Currently, the Hammon Family owns and operates Scenic World in the NSW Blue Mountains, which it claims is the most visited privately owned tourist attraction in Australia. The group is also substantial investors in the new Sydney Zoo being developed in Western Sydney.
“The Sydney Harbour Bridge tourism activities currently include climbs on the arches of the bridge, a bridge experience centre and a pylon lookout. The Hammon Family [has] an exciting vision for the future of tourism activities on Sydney Harbour Bridge, including new and improved experiences,” the group’s lawyers, Norton Rose Fulbright, said in a statement.
“I am delighted that we have been able to assist the Hammon Family, a local NSW family business, in pulling together such a strong proposal and helping them to close out this transaction with RMS,” said Norton Rose Fulbright banking and projects partner, Rob White.
“Sydneysiders are understandably proud of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and should be excited by the Hammon Family’s vision for this world-renowned tourist attraction.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.