18 Jan 2016

There's no room inn the capital

7:49 am on 18 January 2016

It calls itself the Events City but more than a month before the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo arrives in Wellington, it appears every bed in the capital has already been booked.

Wellington Harbour

Wellington Harbour Photo: AFP

Thousands of people are expected to attend the display, which is one of four big events scheduled in the city during the same weekend in February.

On the weekend of 18 to 21 February, Wellington will host The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Wine and Food Festival, Round the Bays, and the American alt-rock band Death Cab for Cutie.

Accommodation website Travel Bug spokesperson Daniel Bridges said with so many events on at one time, there simply were not enough beds.

"Wellington is chocka-block, the pipes have been calling and the tourists have flocked to Wellington," he said. "[It] looks like every room in town is full for that weekend, conflating a ridiculously busy summer for New Zealand in general and for Wellington."

Mr Bridges said Travel Bug listed more than 90 percent of the commercial accommodation available in the city.

Positively Wellington Tourism and the Wellington iSite have been operating a waitlist to help people find a place to stay.

Hospitality Association spokesperson Dylan Firth said people needed to be prepared to look further afield and even consider renting a bach in Kapiti or the Wairarapa.

Mr Firth said the city had been running at 97 percent of its capacity for the last two months, and more rooms were needed.

"For large events things will sell out, but how far do you go?

"I suppose in a free market, people will see the demand for beds and the opportunity for a hotel and whether that will meet that demand.

"There is going to be growth on the horizon, there'll be new hotels being built," he said.

Kapa Celtic - the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Kapa Celtic - the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Photo: AFP

Wine and Food Festival operations manager Damien Hochberg said the limited number of beds stopped more people from outside the region coming to festivals.

Wellington City Council's economic growth and arts committee chair Jo Coughlan said the council had identified capacity as a pressing issue.

"There is a clear demand for more hotel rooms, particularly at the top end.

"Investors are starting to realise this and showing signs of interest and we're working hard with [New Zealand Trade and Enterprise] and with our own regional economic development agency to get in front of investors and to really just continue to promote the benefits and opportunities in Wellington."

Mrs Coughlan said the council worked with organisers to try and spread events out across the year.

A new hotel being built on the corner of Boulcott and Willis streets.

A new hotel being built on the corner of Boulcott and Willis streets. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Wellington Culinary Events Trust chief executive Sarah Meikle said when the trust was designing the Wellington on a Plate festival seven years ago, it specifically looked to a quieter part of the year; August.

"It's winter everywhere in New Zealand, often people want to go on holiday somewhere and they want to have a change of scene.

"We also wanted to create an opportunity to share the vibrancy of Wellington's hospitality sector.

"At that time of year we knew there'd be plenty of rooms available and that people could actually make the most of their holiday in Wellington," she said.

Although there were no beds left for that weekend in February, Mr Firth had some advice for people planning to attend other big events in the capital: book early, and if there was nothing available online, try calling the hotel directly.