Queenstown tourism chief strongly opposed to proposed shake-up

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A new economic plan is off to a shaky start, with Queenstown’s tourism supremo panning a key recommendation. 

Destination Queenstown chairman Mark Quickfall roundly rejects the recommendation from Queenstown council’s consultants to roll DQ into one regional promotion body with its Wanaka and Arrowtown counterparts. 

“I have a very strong personal view,” Quickfall tells Mountain Scene

“Queenstown and Wanaka [tourism] offerings are quite different. 

“It would be a disservice to Wanaka to drag that into Queenstown.” 

Quickfall points out Queenstown, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Fiordland already run selective joint promotions as the Southern Lakes Tourism Group. 

“So we already have those efficiencies in place.” 

The tourism-promotion merger is a “priority” recommendation by consultancy MartinJenkins in a draft new ‘economic development strategy’ commissioned by Queenstown’s council. 

“It’s unusual to have three promotional organisations for a district the size of Queenstown Lakes,” the consultancy claims. 

“Having different governance arrangements for each agency duplicates overheads and servicing.” 

Along with the promotion bodies, the consultancy says, the council should “assess the effectiveness of the current split of visitor promotion … and whether and how the three promotional arrangements should be integrated”. 

Quickfall’s dead against DQ being captured by City Hall. 

“I think council should always be [represented] at the DQ table,” he says. 

“But I have a very strong view that if you put these [tourism bodies] into the council, they’ll be slowed down. 

“Not because the council’s not efficient but because [the tourism bodies] will become more bureaucratic and hamstrung to a degree by legislation.” 

MartinJenkins pointedly says Lake Wanaka Tourism gets just $738,000 compared with DQ’s $3.3 million. 

But aside from a small amount from residential rates, Quickfall says DQ is mainly funded by promotion levies on businesses. 

DQ has a volunteer board and an oversight “review board” representing contributing businesses. 

Quickfall says: “You can never get a better gatekeeper than that. 

“People who’ve been at DQ here a long time feel that the DQ model works particularly well and why try to fix what’s not broken?” 

Council boss Adam Feeley says MartinJenkins doesn’t claim the tourism bodies are performing poorly – the consultancy is simply challenging the status quo. 

Feeley: “They suggest it’s timely to consider all the options as it’s one of the most important areas to influence growth.” 

The council wants feedback on the draft strategy, he says. 

Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association chair Scott Julian couldn’t be contacted. 

A council drop-in session to consider the strategy is being held at Queenstown Memorial Centre this Tuesday from 12pm, followed by a public forum from 5 till 7.30pm.