One of my big concerns about Tauranga is our diminishing CBD. The hotel is but one of the many initiatives put into place by the current Council to revitalise the city centre.
I am reminded by the travel professional at home how most people outside of New Zealand have never heard of Tauranga. As a professional speaker, I am also aware how infrequently the events I have spoken at are held here at home. In fact, I don't believe I have ever spoken at a large audience event in Tauranga. Many local companies hold their event in Rotorua or Hamilton.
We don't have an international-chain hotel to help raise our tourism profile nor a convention centre to attract such large events. While TECT Arena may now be able to host them, there really is not a hotel that could comfortably accommodate all the participants and certainly not one close by.
This week, we had a confidential closed-door meeting at Council about the new international hotel in the city.
The tenders were put to vote and it was in the end, awarded to Tainui and the hotel will be a Novotel with about 200 rooms and a convention centre of up to 400-person capacity.
I voted for the alternative and note that the voting outcome has apparently remained confidential so I will just say that I am gutted that I was way out-voted.
I believed that the tender from Peter Cooney and Ray Cook was a better and more solid proposal even though the hotel brand, Travelodge may not be as strong a name as Novotel. More importantly, I really wanted to support a local developer especially for a project of this magnitude. The Tauranga economy could do with a little help.
The new hotel on Durham Street would bring many benefits to the city including, amongst others:
- A significant number of new jobs;
- Offering up Tauranga as a new NZ destination for conferences and events;
- Raising our city's profile in domestic and international tourism.
All of the above will bring more people into the CBD that desperately needs more life and commerce. Financially, conferences, events and visitors from outside the Tauranga District would inject foreign funds to boost our local economy.
I am looking forward to the new addition to our skyline.