Let the market decide where people want hotels

Stuff reports:

Plans to build a 200-room hotel at  airport have upset some city developers and business people who say the location will damage inner city regeneration. 

Christchurch International Airport Ltd, which is 75 per cent owned by the Christchurch City Council and 25 per cent owned by the Crown, announced last month that it was building the $80m Novotel Christchurch Airport hotel to fill a major gap in the accommodation market. …

However, prominent local businessman Philip Carter, a key player in the proposed convention centre which includes a hotel, described the decision as “one of the most unfortunate decisions made in Christchurch since the earthquakes.”

“Fresh investment has stimulated the regeneration of the central city, but this announcement to spend public money outside the CBD will have a negative impact and send a confusing signal to the investment community both within and outside the city.” …

Central City Business Association chair Antony Gough said the new hotel, due to open in late 2017, would encourage passengers to stay overnight then “shoot through” without spending time and money in the central city. 

But Johns said that was exactly the market the hotel was targeting and it would cater for about a million short stay passengers a year who flew in and out late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

“They’re not coming to stay for two, three or four nights, they’re coming to transit through the airport.”

Local Tourism Industry Association hotel sector representative, Bruce Garrett, said there was already plenty of accommodation at or near the airport and the need was for more beds in the CBD.

“It’s effectively the council going into competition with private hotels.” 

Tony Sewell, property consultant and former chief executive of Ngai Tahu Property, said the airport was only 15 minutes by car from the CBD  and the location of the hotel went against efforts to regenerate the inner city.

The public ownership of the airport is a red herring. It is a private company whose aim is to make money. If they think they can make money by building an airport hotel, then good on them.

Those saying that it will compete with other hotels, miss the point. It is meant to. If getting people to stay in the central city is dependent on a strategy of having nowhere to stay outside the central city – well doomed to failure.

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