It’s time for a one-stop shop

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If a Chamber of Commerce initiative flies, a new organisation may oversee next year’s Queenstown Winter Festival and other Wakatipu events. 

The chamber is promoting the establishment of “Events Queenstown”, a not-for-profit trust, to become “the lead agency for event tourism”. 

As well as the chamber itself, the governance trust would comprise Queenstown Lakes District Council, an “economic development agency”, council companies Lakes Leisure and Queenstown Airport Corporation – plus Destination Queenstown and a hotel-industry rep. 

A discussion document says the proposed new body would assist existing event firms by “undertaking actions
of benefit to all Queenstown events [which would probably] be unaffordable for any one individual event operator”. 

Examples include sponsorship, marketing, facilities and equipment, media management, funding – and whipping 
up volunteers. 

Event funding is “difficult” right now, the chamber maintains. A dedicated events body could make all the difference in tapping central as well as local government, and providing a ring of confidence for community trust grants and major brand sponsorships. 

The new organisation would compile an events calendar designed to “spread [tourism] demand across all seasons, especially non-peak”. 

The calendar would benefit local and national businesses who could pre-plan event-lined offers on transport, accommodation and retail. 

As well as “mega-events” or “hallmark events” such as Winter Festival or the New Zealand Golf Open, the
calendar would incorporate “regional events” like Arrowtown’s Autumn Festival and “local events” such as Remarkables Park’s Family Fun Day. 

While the chamber wants a seat on the governance trust board, it says it’s not the right body to run Events Queenstown. And for various reasons nor is the council or DQ, the discussion document suggests. 

Chamber president Alastair Porter says the proposal has been put to QLDC, Lakes Leisure and Destination Queens­town, building on work they’ve already been involved in. 

“My assessment of the initial response is that this [is seen] as a positive move forward,” Porter says. 

“Queenstown has matured to the point where it needs its own events organisation.” 

The chamber’s discussion document draws heavily on work by Canadian tourism and hospitality-management professor Don Getz from the University of Calgary.

Economic powerhouse

As well as plugging its “Events Queenstown” idea, Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce is also driving hard for the establishment of an “Economic Development Agency”. 

Chamber chair Alastair Porter wants to see an agency operating by year-end. 

Elsewhere, such agencies concentrate on “expanding manufacturing and industrial activity” but Queenstown is different, he says. 

A resort version should start by building a “reliable and analysable economic profile” – presently, for example, Statistics NZ and Queenstown Lakes District Council have “conflicting” growth projections. 

Establishing “credible economic forecasts” would see banks lending more readily to local firms, and with a sound economic profile the economic development agency could then begin to attract new businesses and investment. 

Porter estimates economic profiling would cost $25,000 initially and $10,000 annually. 

Staffing and running the agency would be $200,000-$300,000 yearly and he suggests banks, big businesses and developers might put up half, matched dollar-for-dollar by central and local government.