The ups and downs of Queenstown’s economy

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Big Aussie bank Westpac has mixed predictions for the Queenstown economy. 

Westpac New Zealand business banking boss Ian Blair, interviewed after a seminar for local businesspeople last Thursday, picked out bright spots and low points. 

Tourism has certainly been tough lately, he says, but “there are good signs” – ski bookings are “reasonably good”, for example. 

But Aussie skiers aren’t spending enough, Blair says. 

“There’s a lot of money in Australia and they’re spending it in Queenstown – they’re just not spending as much as we’d like them to, which has put some pressure on some operators.” 

Queenstown must get greater numbers of “high-end tourists” here, he adds. 

There will be fewer Asians after the Christchurch quake – “they’ll be timid for some period of time” – but we may see more Aucklanders. 

With Auckland house prices starting to move up, “if people start to feel wealthier they’re going to spend money and they might come to Queenstown rather than Ruapehu”.