Queenstown braces for record summer


Queenstown hoteliers are preparing for a record summer and many are reporting their strongest forward bookings since the global financial crisis.

They say demand is coming from all directions, with a particular resurgence in United States and South American visitors.

One is even warning the resort’s hotel and tourism operators to keep up their standards in the face of the coming rush.

Sofitel general manager Vincent Macquet says the strong message is to prepare for a big summer.

“I think the challenge here for us operators is to make sure we maintain our level of luxury and service during those peak times, and we’re not seen as a destination that’s overpriced but not delivering on expectations.

“If everyone thought 2015 was a great summer, they should be gearing up for what will be in my mind an even bigger summer in 2016.”

Last year was a ”banner year”, but 2015 mighttop that, Mr Macquet says.

New Zealand’s standing as a safe alternative to Europe and the Middle East was driving a resurgence in visitors from the United States and South America.

Mercure manager Dean Daniels says bookings through to November are the busiest it has experienced since the global financial crisis, while Crowne Plaza general manager Reinier Eulink says spring was proving to be a “strong season on top of a strong year”.

Novotel general manager Jim Moore says last summer was incredibly busy for the resort’s hotel sector.

“It’s my understanding that most of them are saying they’re ahead of last year.”

Demand is coming from everywhere, boosted by increased flights from China and South America and continuing high numbers from Australia.

“Three or four months out, it’s looking good,” Mr Moore says.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says forward bookings through November and beyond indicate another good summer is in store.

All the resort’s key markets are continuing to grow, but numbers from the United States, boosted by a favourable exchange rate, are especially pleasing.

Baby-boomer Americans are traditionally cautious travellers who ”closed their wallets and stopped travelling through the GFC”.

“They’ve retained their wealth and they are travelling again.”

Otago Daily Times