Maybe the conference centre doesn’t need to be renovated with an attached hotel. Maybe it just needs to be reinvigorated.
City council was given a lot of information to consider this week as it was presented with a conference centre hotel feasibility study and then immediately had that report called into question by hotel operators.
The feasibility study identified opportunity in the market for one more downtown hotel, but the company that prepared the report was working with figures that local hoteliers believe were exaggerated.
This council and previous ones have been criticized for failing to attract a conference centre hotel proponent, but we can draw conclusions that there hasn’t been the right business climate to make such a project feasible. Of course, much of the onus to create that market falls on the city, conference centre management, the economic development corporation, the business improvement association, the hospitality association and tourism bodies. There’s a shared responsibility to ensure conventions come here – downtown revitalization depends upon it and anyone with a stake in our broader local economy deserves it.
The hoteliers lamented a lack of communication in generating conference business. That goes both ways, but at the same time, they’re right. There should be consistent co-operation with the conference centre, especially now, when we don’t have an attached hotel.
Tracy Samra, chief administrative officer, pointed out the feasibility study made some of the same conclusions as the core services review in identifying failures in collaborative destination marketing.
“A new hotel will help; it will adjust the situation,” Samra said. “But it’s not the only answer that council has in front of it.”
Even if a conference centre hotel is the right answer, we don’t have one right now. This is our Nanaimo. These are our amenities and accommodations. We do have a lot to offer, if we would only look from a different perspective and a shared perspective.