Arrowtown goes indy to turn tide

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Hard times are driving Arrowtown Inc’s bid to become a branded destination in its own right. 

“Some retailers report business is down as much as 40 per cent”, the Arrowtown Promotion & Business Ass-ociation annual report says. 

“Our focus will be selling Arrowtown as a destination which has much to offer, where visitors have access to a great many activities.” 

The association canes Queenstown Lakes District Council for “serious inadequacies” such as campervan parking, which is “grossly inadequate in peak season”. Public transport from major feeder market Queenstown is also substandard and “a solution has to be found”. 

Arrowtown Inc is also looking to do its own promotions outside DQ. 

Association board member Henry Crawford, an Aussie with a lodge in Arrowtown who’s driving the brand-identity initiative, says: “Queenstown [through DQ] gets about $3 million a year and Arrowtown gets about $130,000,” he says. 

“DQ’s focus is very much on the big town and its interest groups.” 

Nevertheless, Crawford believes “more visitors are coming to Queenstown and that pond becomes a greater fishing ground for us”. 

Crawford says a marketer has done a $10,000 Arrowtown brand review which would transform Arrowtown into a destination, Crawford believes. 

“Anecdotal evidence suggests many visitors happen upon it by accident. 

“I see it as a hub from where you do all sorts – golf, good access to the skifields, walking trails, adventure, food and the wine trail.” 

Crawford, who once had a luxury lodge in Fiji, says branding doesn’t just mean a logo. 

“It’s a relationship between a product and a user, an encounter, an experience, a buzz.” 

The brand plan and research provide a sound platform, Crawford says, “but whether we have the money to institute the plan, I don’t know”. 

The association has asked council for 2011-12 funding of $195,000 – up from the current year’s $135,000.