Opinion: Waterfront hotel would provide injection of hope

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? Probably not.

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 each year.

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 ahead.

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 your hearts.

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 opportunity.

I want to see an injection of hope, not a slap of rejection.

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