DQ, Chamber split on agency

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A local volunteer group proposing an economic futures agency wants tourism and business stakeholders to help pay for it. 

But Destination Queenstown and Queenstown Chamber of Commerce – two of the suggested funders – have mixed views about the idea. 

The Economic Futures Taskforce, part of the district-wide Shaping Our Future initiative, has produced its recommendation in a report due to be publicly discussed next Tuesday. 

The taskforce has suggested an “economic futures agency” be established to develop and deliver a detailed economic strategy in line with the district’s economic vision. 

It wants seed funding from DQ, Lake Wanaka Tourism and the district’s two Chambers of Commerce, as well as local trusts and private businesses. Queenstown Lakes District Council would offer in-kind support. The report says the agency would initially be staffed by one full-time employee who would deliver the economic strategy. 

DQ board chairman Mark Quickfall says it’s unlikely the promotions body will contribute money. 

“It’s quite clear that the rules of DQ are focused on destination marketing in the visitor industry so our rules don’t allow us to divert funding to something like this at this point,” he says. 

“We support the fact of investigating whether an agency is required and to what shape it may take. We’ll certainly discuss it at a board level and go along to the first meeting.” 

Queenstown Chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart says she supports the idea of contributing cash because the district should have an economic futures agency. 

“But I think we need to look at a wide range of funding options, as indeed other economic agencies do around the country – who are funded by local government and various contracts with national government,” she says. 

“For a district of this size, in terms of our turnover and our visitor numbers, we need to look at opportunities to diversify our income and facilitate new business to the district.” 

Shaping Our Future chairman David Kennedy says the recommendation is simply an idea at this stage and the aim is to get as many people as possible sharing their views at next Tuesday’s meeting. 

The meeting will be at the Lake Hayes Pavilion from 4-6pm.