Planned CBD hostel welcomed

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 09:35 26/05/2014

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A new backpackers' hostel planned for the centre of Blenheim is a welcome addition to the region, say wine, accommodation and tourism representatives.

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said in the year ending March 2014, the backpacking category had shown the biggest increase in terms of guest nights.

The Commercial Accommodation Monitor, released by Statistics New Zealand, showed a 16.4 per cent increase in backpacker guest nights in Marlborough in the year ending March 2013.

Guest nights at motels, apartments and holiday parks also increased on the previous year.

The increase indicated that backpackers' accommodation was in demand, Johnston said.

"In principle, anything that adds to our accommodation mix, whatever style of accommodation it is, would be a welcome addition as a quality accommodation offering to customers," she said.

Loft bar owner Gary Smith recently announced he would close his Kinross St pub and reopen it as a backpackers' hostel to provide a central accommodation option for seasonal workers and tourists.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said encouraging signs of growth in the Marlborough wine industry could see a demand for more workers in the future. Being able to offer them suitable, quality accommodation options was important, he said.

He believed the new hostel would be well used.

"I think affordable accommodation would always be sought out, as value is something everyone seeks, so if this option is affordable and good it could do well."

The central location would be good for seasonal workers, many of whom did not have their own transport, Pickens said.

"It's closer to pick-up points [like the railway station] and it is also nearer to other facilities, too, like the pool, library, movie theatre, supermarkets and gym which is great for any workers looking for things to do."

The Grapevine Backpackers manager Hayden Lawrence said there was solid demand for accommodation in Marlborough, particularly during the high season of vineyard work.

A new hostel would be good for the region in terms of tourism, as long as it was done well, he said.

Many Marlborough backpacker hostels were old villa-style houses, and it would be interesting to see what Smith did with the building, he said. "It could be something quite different." kat.duggan@mex.co.nz

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- The Marlborough Express

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