After pioneering the concept and then running it for the past 20 years, BridgeClimb learnt last week it had been unsuccessful in its bid to extend its contract for another two decades.

Twelve companies bid for the rights to manage Sydney Harbour Bridge climbs including the company awarded the contract, Katoomba-based Hammons Holdings, which runs Scenic World in the Blue Mountains.

Hammons Holdings CEO, David Hammon, said expanding access and affordability was a key priority in its 20-year vision for the bridge.

Mr Hammon said Hammons would be drawing on more than 70 years of successful operations at Scenic World to inject new life into the bridge experience for local, interstate and international visitors.

“The bridge is already an iconic structure, recognised around the world. We want to make it a must-see destination for Sydneysiders and visitors to Sydney, regardless of physical or financial restraints,” he said.

“Our experience building Scenic World into one of Australia’s most popular destinations shows that we can drive visitor numbers and increase economic value while respecting unique heritage and environmental values.

“Our vision is to recreate the people’s bridge – we will be exploring ways to safely expand access to new areas of the bridge, use innovative technology to bring the bridge to life, and make its history and connectivity a more central part of the experience. We acknowledge the pioneering work of Paul Cave in developing the bridge into a popular tourist destination and look forward to working in partnership with the government to build on that work.”

BridgeClimb has summited four million climbers from more than 140 countries since opening on October 1, 1998, turning the 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 a statement, Mr Cave said: “It has been a privilege for us to make a hero of the bridge, and of every climber on every climb. We will continue to create unforgettable memories until our final climber”.

He said he would not be making further comments at this time.

For all customers booked up until September 30, 2018, BridgeClimb will be climbing as usual. For any customers with climb bookings after, September 30, BridgeClimb will be in contact when there is further clarity regarding these bookings.

Other unsuccessful bidders were reportedly Merlin Entertainment, US-based Anytime Fitness, and Ardent Leisure, owners of Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and Skypoint.