Business lunch to tackle tourism issues

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Queenstown’s natural beauty isn’t enough to sustain the burgeoning business-tourism sector, industry heavyweights say.

The resort needs to invest properly in infrastructure if it wants to be a serious player in the lucrative conference market, Conventions & Incentives New Zealand boss Alan Trotter says.

The call from Auckland-based Trotter is a taste of what he’ll touch on as one of the speakers at the Gen-i Business Luncheon which kicks off the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival next Friday, on June 21.

As well as Trotter, other speakers will be departing Christchurch International Airport boss Jim Boult and Tourism NZ’s international business events manager Bjoern Spreitzer.

Queenstown’s David Kennedy, the southern region chief of Ngai Tahu Tourism, is MC.

“The days of winging it are gone,” Trotter says.

“If we want to stay in the game, we’ve got to invest in infrastructure.

“Having lovely mountains and a lovely lake is simply not enough. Our people are looking for a business reason to go there.”

Business tourism is arguably more lucrative than Queenstown’s world-famous adventure tourism, Trotter claims.

“I equate leisure tourism as the beautiful blonde – and Queenstown is the beautiful blonde in the room. Everybody gravitates to her because she’s the best looking.

“Business tourism is the nice-looking girl but she’s got a lot of brains. Business tourism is driven not just by scenery and activities, it’s about people meeting for a business purpose.

“It’s a different dynamic. What it requires is dedicated facilities in which these people can meet, break out, eat and exhibit in.”

Queenstown’s proposed convention centre should cater for between 500-1000 people, Trotter believes – and it should be built soon.

“If you don’t do anything, you’ll continue to do reasonably well. But I think it needs to move to the next level, with high net-worth individuals who spend a lot of money.

“They love wine, golf, fishing, chartering a helicopter – they’ve got the money to spend,” Trotter says.

“These are the people you want to attract to your destination.”

Boult, a long-time Queens-town resident, agrees.

“Business tourism is probably about the most productive tourism there is. Generally people coming from another country are going to go to the convention but they’re also highly likely to spend some leisure time afterwards.

“People coming to places like Queenstown for business tourism for conventions tend to go away as positive ambassadors of the destination as well,” he adds.

“The most powerful tool in promoting travel is word of mouth,” Boult says.

The luncheon, also organised by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and Destination Queenstown, is at Skyline Restaurant. Tickets at $40 plus GST or $350 plus GST for a table of 10 are still available – and include the gondola ride.