The developer of a luxury 28-storey hotel proposed for Dunedin's waterfront says it will put the city on the map for middle class Chinese tourists.
The hearing for resource consent for the controversial $100 million complex at Steamer Basin began on Monday.
The hotel plan has attracted more than 500 public submissions, with about 60% objecting to the height, which would be twice that of the tallest existing building in Dunedin.
Representatives of developer Betterways Advisory outlined the hotel project and defended its height and visibility.
Company director Steve Rodgers told the hearing panel that many Chinese tourists demand five-star hotels, and at the moment bypass Dunedin because they city does not have one.
Mr Rodgers said the proposal would create a new tourism loop from Auckland to Dunedin to Queenstown.
A director of hotel consultancy Horwath HTL, Stephen Hamilton, said Dunedin had wanted a five-star hotel for decades, and this was a rare opportunity.
He said the city had little chance of expanding its tourism sector significantly without a luxury hotel targeted at Chinese tourists.
The building's designer, Jeremy Whelan, rejected criticism that its modern, glassy faces are out of context.
He said the site was set well back from the CBD and enhanced the city's heritage buildings by being different.
During the two weeks of hearings, 150 submitters have asked to be heard.