City airport ban on dossers riles hostel owner

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2013
Grant Parrett, Jailhouse Accommodation
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
PLOY SUSPECTED: Grant Parrett inside his Jailhouse Accommodation in Addington. He says Christchurch Airport is pushing its own accommodation agenda by kicking out overnight stayers.

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A Christchurch hostel manager has accused the city's airport of banishing travellers overnight to further its own accommodation ambitions.

Christchurch International Airport chief executive Jim Boult dismissed the claims as "silly", saying the airport's role was to direct people to central city accommodation.

The airport is planning to build a 200-bed backpackers' lodge on site as part of its redevelopment.

This month the airport began "cleaning and clearing" the international terminal between midnight and 5am while refurbishment and fire-alarm testing took place.

On Friday, Boult told The Press the policy would be in place "for the next few months" but on Sunday said refurbishment would be finished by today and tourists who could prove they had an early flight would be allowed to stay overnight.

Jailhouse Accommodation owner Grant Parrett thought the clearing-out policy was part of a wider ploy.

"We believe that [Boult] is looking to create an environment that supports the airport's ambition to build accommodation and associated services, such as bars and cafes, on site," he said.

"It is my opinion that they're testing for the demand out there."

Other Christchurch tourism players, such as accommodation providers and transport operators, were "being alienated by the airport's approach", he said.

"We strongly believe new tourist accommodation should be located in the central city to help with the rebuild and revitalisation of the city."

Another local hostel owner, who did not wish to be named, agreed the airport was "pushing their own agenda".

"I think they have their own hostel firmly in mind."

Boult dismissed Parrett's claims as "silly".

"We have openly said we want to encourage visitors to leave the airport to go support Canterbury accommodation providers.

"We're on record as saying people who choose to sleep here free are doing local accommodation providers out of $2 million to $3 million earnings a year. We are not comfortable with that."

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter also rejected Parrett's "cynical view".

"In restricting people staying at the airport, they are actually encouraging them out into the city and into accommodation so I'm not quite sure how that works."

Hunter said a backpackers' lodge was needed at the airport for those on early-morning flights. "It doesn't matter who builds it."

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AIRPORT PLANS

- Plans to build a 200-bed backpackers' lodge.

- The Dakota Park commercial property development.

- A car-parking business, Craddocks.

- A temporary office park with tenants including House of Travel.

- Plans to build the Spitfire Square retail precinct for bars, cafes and a supermarket.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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