Brisbane needs 450 new hotel rooms a year over the next 10 years if we’re going to grow our profile as an economic powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region
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Have you ever tried to book a hotel room for a big event in Brisbane and found it near impossible? It can be a frustrating experience for you as a customer and it certainly frustrates me as lord mayor. On the one hand it’s a positive. When it comes to events such as State of Origin, Riverfire and New Year’s Eve our hotels are full to the brim and it’s a sign of confidence in Brisbane as a place that people want to be. However I’m also currently pushing hard through my Economic Development plan to attract more interstate and international visitors, marquee events and conferences to this city, and we need the supporting accommodation if we’re going to grow our profile as an economic powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region. This is particularly important ahead of next year’s G20 summit of the world’s most powerful leaders.
Recent research shows that Brisbane is losing about 87,000 visitors and $130 million in subsequent spending due to a shortage of hotel rooms. In blunt terms, that could be an extra 1100 jobs for Brisbane. There is enough demand out there to sustain these hotels being built. We’ve done the sums and Brisbane has enough events and attractions to add another 450 hotel rooms per year over the next 10 years. It’s a tantalising prospect given the additional jobs and economic boost the construction of these extra rooms alone will deliver to our local construction sector.
The big road block here is the credit difficulties faced by the builders and developers of big projects since the global financial crisis. However it will only be a matter of time before they start investing again and we want these people to know that Brisbane supports this type of high-quality hotel development and that when they consider their next project, we want it to be here. That’s why we’ve created our own Guide to Hotel Investment in Brisbane. This lays out all the things interstate and international investors need to know about building in Brisbane and also discusses our current generous discount for developers who want to build four-and-five star hotels. This is because we want quality as well as quantity.
We’re already seeing interest, with a number of new luxury hotels proposed for the CBD and Valley, and expect more as sites like Howard Smith Wharves and the old law court site are put to tender for similar projects. The discount also applies to existing hotels in an effort to encourage them to upgrade their facilities and the interest here has also been positive via projects such as the proposed revamp of the Chifley Hotel.
Another innovative way my team is ensuring Brisbane maximises its business opportunities is through the release of our much-anticipated digital strategy. Obviously a big part of this is about building the profile of Brisbane and its business online. However it’s also about protecting the future of local jobs and investment. Unfortunately many local businesses take the famous Australian attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ when it comes to promotion, expecting that their workmanship, products or services will speak for itself. However, we’re now dealing with a boundless online economy where you have thousands of direct competitors from around the world, not just one or two around the corner, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to have your voice heard over the pack.