Ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tors say planned ho­tel will cause over­sup­ply of rooms Ri­vals slam door on Hil­ton

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - ANDREW BACKHOUSE TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

SOME of Townsville’s big­gest ho­tel op­er­a­tors have warned they will lose mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue and jobs if a new ho­tel is built with­out in­creas­ing vis­i­tor num­bers to the city.

They have also ques­tioned what in­cen­tives Townsville City Coun­cil will pro­vide for a pro­posed Hil­ton Dou­bleTree ho­tel along­side the new sta­dium and why a large world­class con­ven­tion cen­tre is not the main game. IT’S an event unique to Townsville that sees the con­ver­gence of indige­nous peo­ple with Pa­pua New Guineans, refugees and many dif­fer­ent cul­tures in the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity.

Thou­sands of peo­ple are ex­pected to visit the Townsville Cul­tural Fes­ti­val, a show­case of Aus­tralian di­ver­sity in­clud­ing mu­sic, food, arts and cul­ture from across the world that kicked off yes­ter­day.

A fire was lit by an indige­nous group yes­ter­day which will burn for the du­ra­tion of the five- day fes­ti­val

But Townsville Deputy Mayor Les Walker says Hil­ton has iden­ti­fied a gap in the high- end mar­ket and that a busi­ness case into an en­ter­tain­ment and ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre has been funded by the State Gov­ern­ment un­der the Townsville City Deal.

At least three mem­bers of the Townsville Ma­jor Ac­com­mo­da­tion Providers group spoke out about Hil­ton’s plans.

Grand Ho­tel gen­eral man­ager Troy Scott said Townsville had one of the worstper­form­ing ho­tel mar­kets in the coun­try with a sig­nif­i­cant over­sup­ply of rooms.

“The sug­ges­tion that — of­fi­cially start­ing the 23rd year of the an­nual event. Last night the grounds of the fes­ti­val at James Cook Univer­sity fea­tured a tra­di­tional hut made of pa­per­bark next to a fire, with jew­ellery and Abo­rig­i­nal carv­ing and craft stalls nearby and tra­di­tional heal­ers next to an ice cream par­lour.

Fes­ti­val ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr Far­vardin Daliri said the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity had started cook­ing food.

“We have 10 PNG groups and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from most of the Pa­cific na­tions,” he said.

“There is dec­o­ra­tion, all sorts of art and many types of heal­ers – from sound heal­ing to reiki heal­ing. Townsville needs an­other 4.5star ho­tel is in­cor­rect and will ac­tu­ally cost cur­rent in­vestors and ho­tel op­er­a­tions mil­lions of dol­lars an­nu­ally and in turn will risk jobs,” Mr Scott said.

Gen­eral man­ager of the Mer­cure Townsville Steve Well­steed and gen­eral man­ager of the Grand Chan­cel­lor Paul Gray said they shared Mr Scott’s con­cern.

“The cru­cial is­sue is around vis­i­ta­tion,” Mr Well­steed said.

“We wel­come new devel­op­ment if there is a huge in­crease in vis­i­ta­tion to the re­gion but we haven’t seen any ev­i­dence of that in the last few years.” The group said Townsville had not sold out of ho­tel

“Ev­ery sec­ond step you find an­other va­ri­ety of Queens­lan­ders from the North.

“And oth­ers have from as far as Sydney.

“The lo­cal com­mu­nity has very much ral­lied around this and there is truly a sense of unity here.

“There is an an­i­mal farm and coun­try mu­sic along with tra­di­tional and ex­otic artists and paint­ings.”

Dr Daliri said it was the com­bi­na­tion of things that made it a mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We have all the colours on dis­play and you can’t see this any­where else. It’s ab­so­lutely mind- blow­ing.” trav­elled here rooms on any day in the past five years and oc­cu­pancy had been 60.3 per cent in the past year. Based on a new 175- bed ho­tel achiev­ing mar­ket av­er­age oc­cu­pancy and with static vis­i­ta­tion, they said ex­ist­ing ho­tels would lose $ 360,000 in rev­enue for ev­ery 100 rooms they of­fered.

Mr Scott agreed that real is­sue was vis­i­ta­tion.

“Mov­ing the sta­dium to the CBD is great for our city on many as­pects, how­ever, there must be a clear and ac­tive events strat­egy to utilise this as­set ev­ery day of the year out­side of Cowboys home games,” Mr Scott said. “The right piece of in­fra­struc­ture for the city is the

He said there were 27 food stalls with ex­otic cui­sine such as Greek, Afghan and So­mali.

Last night fea­tured the tra­di­tional wel­come to coun­try event and open­ing cer­e­mony.

A group of med­i­cal stu­dents from James Cook Univer­sity who em­brace their tra­di­tional roots by spread­ing cul­tural aware­ness by dance known as the Desi Girls also per­formed.

To­day’s sched­ule fea­tures a Bol­ly­wood con­cert and to­mor­row indige­nous Aus­tralian mu­si­cian Stan­ley Gawurra will per­form.

The week­end sched­ule is packed with dance and choir groups. not a new ho­tel in iso­la­tion but a large, world- class con­ven­tion cen­tre to bring peo­ple to our re­gion.”

Cr Walker said the fact that the Hil­ton Group was in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing in Townsville should only be seen as a ma­jor pos­i­tive for the city.

“The MOU an­nounce­ment is the best pos­si­ble ex­am­ple of how the new sta­dium and our plans for Townsville are at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of in­vestors,” Cr Walker said.

On in­cen­tives, Cr Walker said the coun­cil would ne­go­ti­ate terms and con­di­tions, as was af­forded any de­vel­oper, that of­fered the best out­come for the com­mu­nity.

Deputy Mayor Cr Les Walker. Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

SOUL­FUL: Gi­laine Kwiz­era from Congo is part of the Singing Bless­ing Team which will per­form at the Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

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