IN its remarkable 179-year history, Sydney's Lord Nelson Hotel has survived a bubonic plague outbreak in the city and the deadly post WW1 Spanish Flu as it now fights like its heroic namesake admiral to  overcome the massive impact of the current pandemic on Australia's tourism gateway.

A tourism mecca that normally sees a constant flow of international visitors, interstate holidaymakers and cruise passengers, businesses in the historic Rocks area have been hit hard by the suspension of international travel, interstate border closures and the worldwide pause in cruising.  

These businesses that are so dependent on tourism's value chain, are looking forward to better days and a local revival with the anticipated carefully managed restart of cruising to help bring visitors streaming back.  

Now, as the iconic Lord Nelson Hotel Brewery and Sydney's oldest licensed pub having first opened in 1842, it has faced a 'triple whammy' on its food and beverage operations, accommodation and the production of craft beers.  

"Even though the building itself has been through three plagues in its time, they always say that, if the walls could speak, we might have had some hints on what to do for this pandemic," said hotel general manager Kristian Savio.  

"Unfortunately, the walls don't speak so we, like everybody else, have had to adapt to the massive changes. We have never had to make changes on such a total scale but we have a 'can do' attitude to make things work. Our ethos is to deal with the impact internally while externally trying to give every appearance that it is business as usual."  

Located so close to Circular Quay, the Lord Nelson already had a strong connection to cruising and its multiplier effect in terms of economic benefit.  

"When it comes to cruise lines, we have people staying at the hotel prior to their cruise and after because we are in such close proximity to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, so it was a beautiful relationship," Mr Savio said.  

The hotel also has an existing partnership with Carnival Cruise Line with the line's signature Thirsty Frog Summer Ale brewed at the hotel served onboard locally based ships, Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor.  

"Since we first partnered nearly five years ago, Carnival Cruise Line has been lucky enough to bring the Lord Nelson name to over one million guests, and with more to come. We have loved being a part of their story and it has been a pleasure to bring a piece of Sydney history to all of our guests," said Jennifer Vandekreeke. 

As Australia's gateway to tourism battles on against the pandemic, businesses in The Rocks area and the wider CBD have the backing of the Sydney Business Chamber.  

Chamber Executive Director Katherine O'Regan said the safe resumption of cruising was "vital for the economic recovery of The Rocks and the CBD." 

"The cruise industry has taken great care in devising Covid-safe measures to begin operating again," Ms O'Regan said.  "These will ensure a safe return for this multi-billion dollar industry that will benefit so many businesses including hospitality and retail in The Rocks, as well as boosting the city's night time economy." 

At the Lord Nelson, Kristian Savio and his team are looking forward to the return of cruising and reconnecting with the Carnival Cruise Line ships and crew.  

"We can't wait to have that business kick off again not only for us but also to get the beer back on board and to be sailing again," Mr Savio said.  

"Even if it isn't international guests and Australians only to begin with it would be fantastic to get some 'seachange' happening."

Lord Nelson Hotel