Aspen trip s’no junket


Queenstown’s great and good are off to posh US ski resort Aspen on a fact-finding mission - including investigating a bed tax.

Ten community leaders and business bods are spending a week in Queenstown’s stateside sister city.

But it’s definitely not a junket, they say.

This week’s trip, upwards of $4000 a head and packed with meetings, has been organised by Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber boss Ann Lockhart says: “It’s a similar resort with similar issues – worker accommodation, visitor numbers, the cost of housing.

“There’s nothing we’re dealing with they haven’t encountered.”

Ratepayers will pick up some of the tab, considering councillor Alexa Forbes is going, as are Graham Budd and Steve Wilde, the bosses of Destination Queenstown and Downtown QT, organisations that get a huge whack from the public purse.

Former Mountain Scene owner Richard Thomas will also join Lockhart.

The same number from the resort’s business community will go, although they have a separate itinerary.

Former journalist Wilde says it’s not a junket.

He says: “Don’t you dare put in there we’re going skiing!

“It’s the end of the season. If there’s snow we might have a look at the slopes, but there are full days of meetings.

“And we’re on a strict budget.”

Aspen, Colorado, which has a permanent population of about 6000, imposes a two per cent ‘lodging tax’ and a nine per cent sales tax.

New York, The Maldives, Vancouver and Delhi all charge visitors in some way.