City needs to offer visitors five-star hotel - report

Tourism Dunedin has left a call for more money, a five-star hotel and closer links with Queenstown ringing in the Dunedin City Council's ears.

The comments came from former Tourism Dunedin trustee Rainsford Grubb as he presented the now-defunct entity's final annual report to the council this week.

The report came months after Tourism Dunedin was subsumed by Enterprise Dunedin, an in-house council entity responsible for a broader mix of tourism, events and other activities, on June 30.

Dunedin was doing well, Mr Grubb reported, with visitor nights continuing to grow, but there were still gaps in the city's tourism infrastructure to be addressed.

That included the need for a ''top quality'' five-star hotel and luxury lodge-style accommodation, demand for which was only increasing.

Mr Grubb said the city should be looking to secure such facilities.

''I think we should be actively seeking out the top hotel chains.''

The city also needed to recognise Queenstown's emergence as a second South Island ''hub'' for air travellers, behind Christchurch, and work closely with the resort as the best way to attract visitors to Dunedin.

And, if the city wanted to continue to lift its results in the tourism sector, more funding would have to be considered by the council, he said.

His comments came months after a deal between the council and Betterways Advisory Ltd, to try to proceed with a five-star waterfront hotel, imploded in April.

Earlier talk of a Hilton hotel development in Dunedin in 2008 had also amounted to nothing.

Cr John Bezett, responding to the report, told Monday's meeting he did not think funding for tourism was adequate, and it was up to the council to consider funding and ''push that forward''.

Cr Neville Peat agreed the city needed to do more to promote itself.

''I think we can do a whole bunch better and I would like to see us use our unique attractions ... I think we underplay what we have in Dunedin in terms of the wildlife sector,'' Cr Peat said.

The Tourism Dunedin report showed Dunedin's total visitor nights increased 7.4%, to 826,431, in the year to May 2014, with domestic visitors up 6.3% and international visitors up 9.2%.

Former Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said in the report the figures in part reflected the return of large conferences and other business events following the refurbishment of the Dunedin Centre.

The value of such events ''ought not to be overestimated'', but the city would need more ''aggressive'' marketing to combat increasing competition from Christchurch and Queenstown, he predicted.

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