Fast-track options on the table for hotel investment

The government is exploring ways it can speed up investment into the hotel sector according to Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.

Speaking at the annual New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference in Auckland yesterday, the deputy prime minister acknowledged there is role to be played by government in addressing the accommodation shortage.

She said that is the accommodation sector has “the most critical role to play in supporting the sustainability of the growth in the tourism sector.”

“While you benefit from tourists coming to stay through out the year, you are also part of the infrastructure which is so important to the visitor experience and you are part of the reason we are seeing such high satisfaction from visitors.”

She added: “We know existing hotel capacity is not going to meet demand and ultimately it is the private sector that will deliver additional accommodation and respond to the increasing demand but government has a role to play in making investors understand the opportunities in New Zealand.

“So that where Project Palace plays a part… it takes a good five years for projects to get underway so we need to be realistic about what Project Palace can achieve.”

“We need to do a better job of talking to investors that are already here and their growth plans and things that we in government and certainly in local government can be doing to help speed up that development.”

“We also need better plans and about what we can do around resource consenting, around RMA, around as far as if a project really does stack up how can we fast-track it so we don’t lose years down the track.”

“We are loosely having these sorts of conversations and we are interested in feedback from this conference on what would really help a speeding up of investment across New Zealand and particular from those of you who are already invested.”

Bennett went on to downplay mooted changes to New Zealand immigration policy that are expected to hit the tourism, hotel and hospitality sectors particular hard.

The minister said: “We haven’t changed that policy yet so let’s be really clear its been out for consultation. We have had a lot of feedback, so thank you, and we’re now assessing that and we are going to be coming out with what exactly that is.”

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