Australians ‘muscle in’ on Gay Ski Week


Queenstown’s locally-run Gay Ski Week might be under threat – from across the Tasman.

Sally Whitewoods – who has run the annual festival since 2011 through company Glam Enterprises with civil union partner Mandy – says Australian accommodation wholesaler LeisureCom Group is using the event’s former website domain name to market a rival event to run at the same time.

The company’s “unethical” tactics are tarnishing her brand and confusing potential festival-goers, she says.

Whitewoods says LeisureCom approached her about selling tickets for this year’s festival about a year ago, but did not want to buy them from her wholesale ticketing agents in Australia.

Using a website domain name formerly owned by festival founder Mike Sanford, the company has recently begun promoting what appears to be a rival event under a “Gay Ski Week New Zealand” banner.

“Having a competitor in business is one thing, but they are directly piggy-backing off what we have done in the past four years.” 

But the company says the Whitewoods do not have a monopoly on the festival, and will continue promoting a “Gay Ski Week Package” combining accommodation, flights and ticketed nightly events.

LeisureCom Group co-founder and chief operations officer Jon Tarrant says the Whitewoods’ company Glam Enterprises does not “own the rights” to the festival or the term ”Gay Ski Week”.

It has been talking to the Whitewoods for a year about packaging its wholesale accommodation and flights with the festival’s ticketed events, but those discussions broke down a fortnight ago.

Tarrant did not respond to a question from the Otago Daily Times on whether his company plans to organise events separate from those running under the Gay Ski Week QT banner.

LeisureCom is working with Queenstown accommodation providers, event promoters, DJs and celebrities with the goal of “making Gay Ski Week New Zealand a world-class event and festival”, he says.

“By increasing the marketing and profile of the Gay Ski Week, there will be significant financial and promotional benefits to the entire tourism industry in Queenstown.

“We are happy with the response we’ve received so far and we’re looking forward to August.”

The Whitewoods took over the festival in 2011, after answering a call for help from Sanford three days before it started.

Since 2012 they have been running it under a “Gay Ski Week QT” banner.

An estimated 1300 people attended festival events last year, and tickets for this year’s festival, running from August 29 to September 5, went on sale this month.

Otago Daily Times