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Strong winter numbers for Christchurch hotels

Full mid-week: The George hotel in Christchurch

By JAMES WILKINSON IN CHRISTCHURCH

Christchurch hotels have posted solid occupancy numbers over the winter months thanks to strong corporate traffic that has resulted in many properties running completely full mid-week.

Speaking exclusively to HM in Christchurch this morning, The George hotel General Manager Bruce Garrett said the business market was ensuring occupancy rates remained high in the wake of leisure traffic under-performing.

“The city is very busy mid-week but there are plenty of rooms available on weekends,” said Garrett, who is also the Tourism Industry Association’s (TIA) Hotel Sector Regional Chair for Canterbury.

He said citywide occupancy rates in August were expected to finish in “the low-to-mid 80s” and that comes on the back a strong July, which produced 79 per cent.

“That’s a great result for the winter months,” he said.

When asked about the forecast for the remainder of the year, Garrett said it was a tough one in the wake of a frustrating booking trend.

“Because everything is so last minute, it is hard to forecast,” he said. “But there is no reason the current trends [and rates] shouldn’t continue.

Seven TIA member properties are currently operating around the city and 90 percent of motels open prior to the February 2011 earthquake are doing business.

The city’s inventory is being boosted next week [Sep 4] when the Ibis Hotel on Hereford Street becomes the first CBD property to re-open since the devastating earthquake.

Until now, The George has been the only city-based hotel operating and Garrett says the re-opening of the Ibis will give Christchurch a boost prior to the summer months.

“Summer should be busy,” he said. “There should be more tourists around than we’ve seen this winter, especially on the back of the Antarctic program.”

Several hotels are expected to re-open in early 2013, including the Rendezvous, Novotel, Laitmer and Heritage, further adding to the city’s stocks before next winter.

Beyond this, two hotels are proposed to be built alongside the city’s new convention centre – a key component of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan – alongside several that have also been mooted.

“A number of people are looking at options for new hotel developments,” Garrett said.

Christchurch Airport is also investigating the possibility of developing a hotel, however, the Sudima Hotel currently has exclusive rights for an accommodation property on airport land for the next 15 years.

A short drive away, the Copthorne Hotel Commodore Christchurch Airport is currently adding 20 rooms to its existing inventory, an extension that’s expected to be complete before the end of 2012.

HM will feature more reports on Christchurch next week, including exclusive interviews with Mayor Bob Parker, tourist board CEO Tim Hunter, Ibis General Manager Tim Dearsley and architect Richard Dalman.

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