Of course we all love the heritage buildings - they make
Dunedin one of a kind among the larger cities of NZ. But by
themselves, do they really offer us hope for the future?
Are the heritage buildings by themselves really memorable
enough in light of today's competition for tourism dollars?
If they were, the buzzwords around the country would be
'Dunedin, heritage buildings', but that's not the case.
In fact, being an Aucklander only six years ago, I can assure
you 99% of Aucklanders think of Dunedin as 'university city,
slower lifestyle'. That's it.
When I think now about what I am proud of in Dunedin, I
immediately think of the world class stadium, the world class
university and the amazing railway station - but that's about
where it ends.
Of course, I know there many other delights (wildlife,
lifestyle, etc) but they are simply not the things that will
attract a lot of people to actually stay here.
Nor are they things we can use to really sell Dunedin to
tourists. At least, not without another drawcard.
Think ahead two or three years. Imagine being able to tell
people: "Yes, come stay here. See our famous buildings,
railways, wildlife, stadium - and stay in a world class,
unforgettable, beautiful five star hotel!"
It is not just a hotel, folks. It is an injection of hope
that Dunedin really needs at the moment.
I believe being able to brag about the hotel will be a lot
better than in two or three years time having to say: "Well,
you could have come and stayed in a five star world class
hotel you never would have forgotten - but um, yeah, well -
we didn't let them build it because we are a bit backwards,
I'm afraid. But I hear Queenstown is nice."
You need to consider the facts rather than the emotional
drivel which seems to make up the most common arguments
against this hotel:
1) It doesn't block anyone's view of the waterfront, except
for a handful of office workers. It might impede a small part
of the view for a few residents on the Hills. That's hardly
reason to stop a $100 million dollar investment.
2) Will a modern building really "deface" the city? That is
what people said about the bright orange hardware store.
Well, we all survived that one. In fact, the hotel will be a
real landmark, something people will really remember Dunedin
by, along with it's other treasures. It will provide a true
contrast to the heritage buildings around it - the perfect
mix if you actually give it some thought.
3) The amount of extra money it will bring from the higher
income tourists who will stop in Dunedin specifically because
of the world class accommodation will more than pay for any
possible costs to ratepayers for path/road/bridge changes. In
fact, I would hazard a guess it will bring millions of
dollars to local food, entertainment, and retail businesses
4) Owners of heritage buildings are now struggling to find
tenants, because many people, like it or not, simply do not
want to be in old buildings. In some cases they will end up
being demolished, and the owners of those that are left will
be glad of the increased business the hotel will bring that
allows them to rent out their space to service industries
fighting to get those extra dollars now flooding into the
city from hotel guests.
Many hotel opponents are saying "Come on people of Dunedin,
lets stand up and fight against this!"
Well, I say the opposite. Come on, sensible people of Dunedin
- those who want their children and grandchildren to be able
to live and work in Dunedin - fight to ensure this hotel goes
It will be one way of giving us hope that Dunedin will be a
growth city, that it will get more money spent here by
tourists. It will provide more employment, it will attract
more investors, and so on.
Come on, seriously - use your heads, and don't be guided by
By the way, I have nothing to do with the hotel or any
tourism related business. I just love Dunedin too much to let
a bunch of doomsayers spoil this once in a lifetime
I want to see an injection of hope, not a slap of rejection.