NZ Travel: Hotel Kaikōura not yet open taking bookings off Marlborough

Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd said Marlborough is already losing business to a new hotel in Kaikōura that has yet to open. Photo/Brya Ingram

A new hotel in Kaikōura that has yet to open is already taking bookings from Marlborough, the region’s tourism boss has said.

It comes as Destination Marlborough chief executive Jacqui Lloyd told Marlborough District Council that Blenheim needed a hotel to stay competitive in the conference and business events market.

His presentation prompted Wairau-Awatere Ward Councilor Gerald Hope to ask whether conference organizers had provided any comments on the availability of accommodation in Marlborough.

Bay of Many Coves is the perfect place for a special meal overlooking the Sounds.  Photo / Anna King Shahab
Bay of Many Coves is the perfect place for a special meal overlooking the Sounds. Photo / Anna King Shahab

Lloyd said they were working under the constraint of not having a big hotel.

“I think we have a big business market coming to Marlborough. A market that people often don’t realize for our accommodation industry.

“And so, at the moment, we are getting around the barrier of not having a large hotel that can accommodate an entire conference group by dividing it into the area.”

But she said there were “definitely” a number of motels within walking distance of the main hub.

“But in the future, if we wanted to continue working in space, we will need more housing in the future.”

Despite this, of the 20 regional conference bids they wanted to make this year, they had submitted six and won four.

“It’s been in the last three months, so we’re really excited about the interest,” she said.

“Trade events have obviously had a rough ride, but with the changes to restrictions and confidence returning to the events industry, we believe Marlborough is in a good position to get more business this way. “

But she said the immediate pressure was that a number of smaller bed and breakfast type accommodation providers in the Marlborough area were no longer operating.

“A lot of them have changed hands or owners, or come back to family ownership. Partly because people have said that actually I’ve had two years without visitors, and I’d like to sell now or become a home again – so that’s our immediate constraint right now, small operators like that.

“We have new infrastructure in neighboring areas, in Kaikōura the Sudima hotel is about to open, and it is already taking business in Marlborough, because some of the coach operators are traveling there rather than in our area. , and that is the capacity constraint.”

Lloyd was presenting Destination Marlborough’s annual plan to a council planning and finance committee last week.

She said Marlborough tourism is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, and possibly even 2025.

“I am extremely optimistic and will continue to be,” she said.

“But we will have challenges this year, we will have a slow return to recovery, we will see a slow return to visits, and of course that affects our businesses.

“So there will be a slow recovery in business for the industry, be it hospitality or tourism. Air capacity is limited but it is coming back.

“By November, we should see good returns in the North American market and then… in the UK, Europe and other markets. We are limited in Asia at the moment.”

She told councilors the region had seen good growth in spending by domestic visitors over the past two years and they hoped to increase it. They hoped that international spending would also increase, but had not yet set a target for this.

“There’s a certain nervousness for those traveling further afield just wanting to make sure New Zealand stays open and they don’t get stuck. That’s going to change.

“Everyone will be competing for the same people as us to come to our area, and those are also our people.

“There will be so much publicity for bringing people to Fiji over the winter when we want our people to spend more money in our area.”

Figures from Destination Marlborough’s annual plan showed visitor spending in the 2019-20 financial year was $411 million, but in 2021-22 that figure had fallen to $177 million, given that the borders were closed and therefore all tourism was national.

It had set a 4% growth target for such domestic spending in the 2022-23 financial year.

Blenheim Borough Councilor David Croad questioned whether a national growth target of 4% was “ambitious enough”.

“It’s been a really tough environment, and I appreciate that…you really should push the boat a bit more,” Croad said.

Lloyd said she would pass this feedback on to Destination Marlborough’s board.

Public interest journalism funded by NZ on Air.

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