With all but a few visitors having left town, Queenstown’s tourism marketing agency’s switched its focus to helping the resort’s beleaguered businesses survive Covid-19.
Destination Queenstown interim boss Ann Lockhart says it’s now part of a ”response and recovery team” that includes reps from Queenstown’s council, the district’s two business chambers, and its Wanaka counterpart.
She and her team, now working from home, are flat-out helping businesses as they ”grapple with the complexities of what the near future looks like”, and are providing information and advice to DQ members and the wider business community.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, DQ’s had to cancel its showpiece annual event, the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival, but her biggest concern at the moment’s what will happen to migrant workers who are laid off.
”We’re looking to ensure there are support systems in place for them.
“Finding work for them is not going to be easy, and a number of them won’t be able to return home for practical reasons, whether financial or they can’t find flights home.“
After the initial crisis response, DQ will switch focus to helping businesses return to business-as-usual as soon as possible.
She hopes that’s “sooner, rather than later”.
”It’s an extremely difficult time for all businesses, no matter what size and industry they are.
“I’m not confident every operator will be able to survive this.
“But with the recent [wage subsidy] package from the government, I expect that’ll be something of a relief to businesses and possibly a lifeline for others.“
Lockhart says DQ had about six months’ marketing activity ready to launch before the virus hit the country.
Those campaigns will be “reprioritised and reframed” and launched when appropriate.
”Which is the big unknown for all of us.“