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The Otago businesswoman behind the proposed five-star hotel and apartment building on the Dunedin waterfront has spoken of her passion for the city and her vision for its future.
Jing Song is the promoter behind Betterways Advisory Ltd, the company proposing the multi-million-dollar development.
Ms Song said the development was all about advancing the city.
“The hotel is an exciting and invigorating project for Dunedin, a city I love,” she said. “We’ve got the opportunity to have the best hotel in the country.”
Ms Song was educated at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch before winning a scholarship to Otago University to study for degrees in accountancy and theatre.
“I can’t talk highly enough about the education and motivation I received at Otago,” she said. “Otago University is the best tertiary education provider in New Zealand. They opened my eyes to business opportunities and that’s why I live and work here.
“At Uni, like many students I had two jobs, one of which was working at the Otago Museum. I wondered even then if there could be more visitors encouraged to come to Dunedin and how that could help the city prosper.”
By 22 Ms Song was a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and practiced accountancy with WHK in Dunedin, previously known as Taylor McLachlan Limited, an independent firm associated with KPMG. She is an Associate member of CPA Australia and a former member of the Dunedin Operatic Inc.
Ms Song spent about eight years living in Dunedin and now runs her own consulting business as well as a wine exporting company promoting world-class trophy award-winning wines such as Central Otago’s Valli wines into China.
A few years ago Ms Song married Chinese-born entrepreneur Ping Cao. From humble beginnings laying bricks on building sites, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to become one of China’s top construction company owners, licensed to build major public infrastructure.
In 25 years’ in business he has completed some of the country’s most prestigious developments, and is renowned as an outstanding young entrepreneur and highly respected businessman.
“Ping and I have spent a lot of time in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as cities around the world, and have come to realise that a five-star hotel in an outstanding location is exactly what is needed in the city I love,” said Jing.
“Dunedin is beautiful, it has a rich history, and I’ve seen many instances around the world where the mixture of old and new creates a truly magical contrast.
“New buildings serve to emphasise and enhance the history of the city, it shows how progressive we are.
Ms Song believes this marriage of old and new presents the opportunity for a world class social and business hub.
“Dunedin has so many attributes. In the 10 years I’ve been involved with the city the challenge has been the lack of a high end hotel, so sadly Dunedin has been missing out on tourism growth. We really want to help make that happen.”
Betterways is in discussion with a number of international five-star hotel chains about the hotel project.
“They’re very keen on Dunedin, especially now we have the only covered stadium in New Zealand. What is required are premises to meet the international standards demanded by major hotel chains and tourists.”
Rather than impeding other businesses, Ms Song believes the development will deliver quite the reverse.
“We aim to have sufficient common driver to deliver benefits for the city as a whole. We want to bring in the top end tourists who will spend a lot of money in the city.
“With the additional exposure of a top hotel chain we will increase tourist numbers across the board. From taxi drivers at the airport to retailers, hospitality business owners, and all service providers, there are benefits for the whole region.
“It will also create a massive boost to the commercial building sector during design and construction phases, and directly employ more than100 people.”
Ms Song said the proposed hotel was about securing an exciting future for Dunedin.
“We can deliver an amazing building which will undoubtedly be the best hotel in the country, offering the highest standard of entertainment and service, something local people can be really proud of.
“Dunedin is ready for a world class hotel and here’s the opportunity.”