BusinessDesk: Christchurch hotels slow to reopen, as aftershocks and insurance delays hurt, NZ Hotel Council says

BusinessDesk: Christchurch hotels slow to reopen, as aftershocks and insurance delays hurt, NZ Hotel Council says

By Sara Greig

Reopening Christchurch hotels has become a slow process because of severe aftershocks and delays from insurers and local authorities, says the NZ Hotel Council.

The NZHC, which will merge with the Tourism Industry Association on April 1, made the comments while presenting its 2011 annual operating survey in Christchurch yesterday.

NZHC Regional Chair Bruce Garrett said over the next couple of years the main focus will be to re-establish hotels in Christchurch and push for the rebuild of the city’s convention centre, which generates significant business for hotels.

Christchurch’s hotel room inventory dropped to 853 rooms after the Feb. 22, 2011, earthquake from 3,717 before the quake. Hotels that are still operational are very busy, but look forward to others reopening as it would lift overall accommodation and may entice tourists to the region.

“There’s no point reopening hotels is there’s no-one there to fill them,” Garrett said.

NZHC executive officer Rachael Shadbolt said in other regions last minute booking was popular in 2011, but this was not the case for Christchurch given the decreased number of hotels.

The Rugby World Cup brought some challenges for hotels nationwide, with normal business in September and October being pushed out to either side of games, she said. This meant that while good rates were achieved during game days, hotels were very quiet mid-week, she said.

The RWC drove up room rates in 2011, with the national average for NZHC member hotels increasing to $146.30 from $129 in 2010.

Christchurch’s eight (operational) NZHC members had an average room rate of $136.10 in 2011.

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Business continuity is a problem full stop for any businesses in the four avenues. Take a food outlet, they can trade one week great and lose three weeks trade as a result of road closures, changes in traffic flows that make people not come and visit all resulting from one demo in the same street. While the Demos' continue business can now forward plan. An order every day means a changed planning landscape. Hotel are especially hit with a  forward booking model and find themselves unable to honour a booking. That is happening a great deal.