A five star hotel for Wellington

The Dom Post reports:

A five-star Hilton Hotel with a vast conference centre could be open and taking bookings in within three years.

Wellington City Council has confirmed a 165-bed Hilton would include a purpose-built, 2500-capacity conference centre, making it the third-largest in New Zealand should it open as hoped in 2017.

That’s superb news for Wellington. We need both a top hotel, and a conference centre.

The Park Royal (whatever it is now called) managed to block a Hilton being built a few years ago (would have been to replace that eyesore indoor sports arena by Dockside), so hopefully they will not be able to use the RMA to block them this time.

The cost of the Hilton hotel-conference centre has not been disclosed, but it would provide about 350 new jobs. Head developer and investor Mark Dunajtschik confirmed it would be built in Cable St, opposite Te Papa, should the proposal get the green light.

Will be very close to Courtney Central, which is dying slightly. So this may help.

The council would provide an as-yet unspecified amount for the project, but only if the business case, which was still being developed, stacked up and was approved by the full council next month.

There would be a consultation period for the public to have its say.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said financial input from the council would most probably be justified.

I’m all for a hotel and convention centre, but not convinced ratepayers should help fund it.

Council economic spokeswoman Jo Coughlan said a large convention centre would enable Wellington to tap into the lucrative Australian market.

“Those convention-goers tend to spend $3000 a trip, compared to a domestic convention-goer, who spends about $1000. It will have a big impact.” …

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said that if the Hilton was built, more foreigners and New Zealanders would visit the city for conferences. “At a conservative level, we think it would grow . . . by about 18 per cent.”

I’m sure there would be be a boost to tourism and the Wellington economy from the proposed hotel and convention centre. But projected benefits tend to always be wildly optimistic. A ratepayer contribution, if necessary, should be modest.


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