User pays Settlers Museum

I note with intertest that there is no charge to enter the new Settlers Museum.

Dunedin rate payers have spent $40 million on this museum and there will be an ongoing cost of upkeep and staff wages long into the future.

If MOTAT in Auckland charges an entry price then why not the new Settlers Museum?

Even at a modest $7.50 per head the 180,000 visitors predicted would return $1.35 million reducing the impost on an already heavily indebted council.

As a motel owner I have no doubt my guests would happily pay as they do to visit Dunedin landmarks such as Larnach Castle. 

In the meantime rates have increased 5.4% and I understand the council is considering targeted rates on local accommodation providers.

I do not wish to argue the merits of the stadium as it is here and we must now find ways to make it viable.

What I will say is that my motel has been full 3 times this year due to the stadium, two Highlander games, and the Springbok Test Match.

The argument that the stadium has delivered a financial windfall to the city's hotels and motels is nonsense.

If the local hotels and motels ran at the sort of occupancy numbers the stadium is attracting we would all be broke.

Gouging rate payers to pay for infrastructure projects which add to Dunedin's ballooning debt is short sighted and unsustainable.

Tourists think nothing of paying to visit attractions as it is standard practise all over the world.

How about having a Chinese Gardens, Settlers Museum daily pass which would be a great day's entertainment?

Let the user pay, don't just keep gouging rate payers to service the over $600 million council debt.


Steven Lewis

Dunthat Motel




Motel promotion

Stevepf says he knows for a fact Dunthat Motel was full during the Elton John concert. He was probably correct but given I have only owned the motel for 11 months I could only relate to my own experience. The comment that we have waited for business to come to us and that we expect it all to be done for us is unfounded. Our marketing strategies have included not only the AA guide but a name change, new website, extensive radio ad campaign, Jasons guide, ODT advertising, new signs, and local rugby team sponsorship. Additionally we have invested in painting the building and upgrading the facility.

Council rates already account for one month's income, which is a more than fair contribution. We don't expect a free ride and we accept the risk which comes from running our own business. We object strongly to a proposal which would gouge yet more in rates in a targeted tax, based on the so-called windfalls presented to us by the stadium.

The projections for the stadium have been hopelessly optimistic re build cost and income and have left the city deep in debt. Surely gouging yet more from ratepayers is an unsustainable economic strategy. The council needs to pull its head out of the sand and develop a fiscal plan which is open, realistic and addresses the awful financial mess that they have imposed on the community.


Hype: If you're running a motel you don't plan for events like Elton John or the RWC, you plan and build to service, and make a living off of,  a market based on a sustainable ongoing day to day occupancy rate that keeps bringing in more money than you spend - anything else is welcome gravy, but you don't depend on it. Steve fumes that the stadium isn't providing the promised weekly crowds and business that was promised for it and that's understandable, he's paying for it, as are we all, the rest of us get no return on our (forced)  investment at all.

However, despite that, most of our city's hotels and motels regularly have empty rooms that they can fill for such events - big hotels build rooms by the floor-full, they can't build half a floor, and other economies of scale kick in - what does that tell us? that more tourists could come to Dunedin (even without a new hotel) why do they not come? Honestly, apart from being a cute wee city with a lovely harbour we don't have a lot going for us as a tourist destination - hyping "the steepest street in the world" is a bit pitiful and, well, frankly embarrassing, it cries of desperation, people laugh at us.


Charging non-residents

The Council considered the option of free entry for Dunedin residents to both the Art Gallery and OSM a number of years ago.  It may have even been trialled for a little while, if my memory serves me.

The idea was abandoned from memory as there was no practical way of knowing whether or not someone was from Dunedin or not.  Also, what about residents from Otago, outside Dunedin?

At first glance it would seem to be a reasonable idea, until you start to think about how you would actually implement it so it wasn't abused.

And the latest published figures I have seen put the cost of the redeveloped Museum at $35m, not $40m (but what's a few million between friends?), of which over $10m came from sources outside the DCC.

More marketing and 'they will come' or else

Stevepf points out the high demand for accommodation in Dunedin "over Elton John, and the international test" and castigates "operators that sit back and expect the business to come to them".
There will be "10 events at the stadium through February and March" - that'll keep accommodation businesses profitable, I'm sure!
When it comes to the provision of services, it is indeed important to communicate, or promote. However, short of hiring musterers with guns and dogs to herd people into town, I do not know how one is supposed to make people come here.
It is up to them to choose where they go and what they do, for their own sakes, in their own time and with their own money. They are not going to come here just because businesses want income.


Must confess, I've lived in Dunedin for over 30 years and have never heard of the Dunthat Motel so I Googled it and was surprised to note that I probably drive past it at least once a week, but have never noticed it.  If your books have been full on three occasions owing to the Stadium, then that's three more "No Vacancy" signs than you likely would have had otherwise.

That aside, you make a valid point re charging tourists so why not instigate a policy like other councils have done (Rotorua come to mind), whereas locals are granted free admission (thus encouraging repeat visitation, which is what the majority of the 180k projection will consist of), and tourists are charged a nominal fee?

Get proactive

An interesting statement re: the stadium not creating more accommodation opportunities. I know for a fact that you were full over Elton John, and the international test as I had friends staying there and I suspect that's not the only time. Even if that's only twice, it's twice more than usual. Not to mention there are a minimum of 10 events at the stadium through February and March. I suggest that you do some marketing of your property if you want to see some gains. I love hearing from those operators that sit back and expect the business to come to them, it's a similar thread between a number of moteliers and attractions in this city ... advertising in the AA Guide is simply not enough. Get proactive.  


Make them pay

Well said, Mr Lewis.