Awards? Nah, we’re too busy

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Queenstown’s absence from this year’s New Zealand Tourism Awards was “very surprising”, says a past winner and former judge. 

Resort companies or individuals didn’t collect any of the 17 awards at the event in Auckland earlier this month. Of 32 finalists, the only local entrant was last year’s Winter Games. 

Murray Strong – marketing manager of NZSki predecessor Mount Cook back when it won a major tourism award, and later a regular judge – says: “It’s surprising there isn’t a stronger Queenstown presence given it’s still by far the jewel in the crown of NZ tourism. 

“That businesses are finding it difficult to commit to the judging process is disappointing. The awards are an important part of industry recognition of excellence,” Strong says. 

“They are an incredibly effective marketing tool and you learn a lot about how to run your business or your organisation better through the process.” 

Because the recession caused last year’s awards to be cancelled, Destination Queenstown chairman Mark Quickfall thinks they were off many operators’ radar this time. 

“But the awards are not the only measurement of success of businesses, so I think Queenstown’s absence shouldn’t be taken as a reflection that we are complacent or not as good as we have been in the past.” 

Preparing an entry is “a big job”, Quickfall says. 

“In the last 12 months, people have said, let’s not be distracted by anything that’s not getting more people to our business.” 

New Queenstown Lakes mayor Vanessa van Uden takes a similar tack: “I wouldn’t have thought that it meant we were losing our status as the jewel in the crown. 

“It just might be that people were really busy doing the business.” 

Robynne Williams, co-owner of local skydiving company NZone, which won the supreme award in 2007 after three years as a finalist, says: “We just thought we’re far too busy to enter.” 

This year’s supreme award winner was Christ-church Casino, part-owned by Queenstown-based Skyline Enterprises.