Sydney’s tourism industry should help drive interest in the city’s new top-level domain when it launches later this month according to the chief executive of ARI Registry Services, the company that managed the application for the new TLD.
“I think the Internet is a big help for the tourism industry, so [operators] will look to something like .sydney to be able to differentiate themselves and call them specifically 'something.sydney',” said ARI’s CEO, Adrian Kinderis.
From 17 February, .sydney domain names will be available on a first come, first served basis, in a similar fashion to .com.au domain names, Kinderis said.
General availability of .sydney follows a sunrise period to allow registered trademark holders and government agencies to register domains.
The new .sydney domain is part of a wave of new top-level domains introduced under the auspices of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The first of the new generic top-level domains were added to the root zone of the Internet’s Domain Name System in 2013. The gTLD represents a massive expansion of the namespace for Internet addresses.
Kinderis said the time of year that .sydney becomes publicly available and the bigger population of Sydney compared to Melbourne mean that he anticipates increased demand at launch for domain names using the new gTLD.
Launching on the heels of .melbourne should also help he said.
"I think Sydney will get life from Melbourne having gone first, which I think is a good thing,” the CEO said. “The profile is raised, more people know about it.”
Registrations for .melbourne were more subdued than he originally anticipated, Kinderis said.
“Melbourne was right at the end of the calendar year and Christmas got in the way, so we were kind of expecting that,” he said.
“There's some really good learnings so far out of Melbourne I think we'll take in and some things we certainly want to articulate to the public,” he added.
He said he had been surprised at the number of registrations for generic .melbourne domains registered.
“So rather than adriansplumbingsupplies.melbourne we're seeing plumbing.melbourne and supplies.melbourne — things like that,” he said.
“The majority of the registrations — anecdotally it's probably around 80 per cent — are generic in approach and I think people are getting those names. I think it's going to help with SEO.”
“People are embracing it [.melbourne], it's just going to be slow,” Kinderis said.
There is still a challenge to educate consumers about the new gTLDs he said, but a program with ‘ambassador’ organisations that use .sydney and a marketing campaign will help.
“It is a case of a rising tide raising all boats. If you were just one company doing it then it would be hard going trying to re-educate, but I think the beauty of our ambassador program, the beauty of our marketing hopefully all of that says well everybody’s going to start to learn about what these .sydney names are and people will be comfortable visiting sites.
“We’re promoting not necessarily to people buying names – our campaign is around Internet users, because if they don’t understand what a .sydney is then people won’t see value in going out and registering one.”