Hamilton Gardens still top

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 12:43 16/10/2012

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Hamilton Gardens remains the city's most popular attraction, drawing about one million visitors a year, but paid bookings at its Pavilion building have crashed.

City councillors will sit down tomorrow to discuss how to reverse the site's booking slum.

A staff report shows Pavilion bookings are down 60 per cent from a five year average and points to increasing competition from other venues such as Claudelands.

Councillor Daphne Bell said the Hamilton Gardens was a treasure but the drop off in Pavilion bookings ''is not totally surprising''.

''Sometimes event organisers go to the newest place in town or for various reasons like to move their event around,'' she said.

''Claudelands has been a major investment for council but we are looking at how to have the gardens as part of what conference organisers look at when they come to Claudelands.''

Ms Bell said the Hamilton Gardens was an excellent venue for evening events and had successfully hosted night-time events such as the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival and the Stations of the Cross.

A strategic review of the Hamilton Gardens will be presented to council next year but a council report said initial surveys showed there was ''strong resistance from residents to the concept of paying for entry into Hamilton Gardens.''

Ms Bell said she would not support any initiative which detracted from residents using the garden but was open to the notion of charging tourists an entry fee.

''Some other cities have a resident's card so there's no charge for residents to a facility. It's an option but it's still something to be looked at and we need to take advise on that.'' 

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- Waikato

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