Winter Festival’s windfall

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Not just fun – dollars too

Queenstown’s Winter Festival isn’t just for fun – it’s a money maker too.

That’s the hard-nosed conclusion of the 2009 “post-festival report” for sponsors on the dollars-and-cents side of the resort’s biggest event.

Domestic and international visitors are estimated to have put $88 million into Wakatipu tills during this winter’s 10-day snowfest.

According to a festival survey, average spend was around $1239 per visitor – $429 on accommodation, $211 on skiing and snowboarding, $148 on restaurants and cafes, $138 on non-snow activities, $201 on shopping and groceries, and $80 on transport.

Using a Tourism Research Council economic impact study of the 2006 Winter Festival as a base, organisers of this year’s event claim the estimated 2009 spend has jumped 20 per cent in that time.

And according to this year’s visitor survey, 24 per cent of Kiwis and 13 per cent of foreigners claim to have been drawn to Queenstown specifically by the Winter Festival – the rest of the visitors during the fest said they were coming anyway.

Not unreasonably, event organisers can therefore claim these fest goers contributed an “incremental spend” of $17.6m over and above what would have been spent regardless.

Free media coverage was the festival’s other big money-spinner – 140 media personnel were “accredited” to this year’s event.

Fest organisers have drawn on specialist firm Media Monitors to calculate the value of festival coverage as if it were paid advertising space.

Festival 2009 generated a staggering 318 media items worth $1.094m at ratecard value, MM reckons – $611,000 in print, $471,000 on TV, and $11,000 on radio.

An impressive $331,000 of that came from Australian media.

Festival organisers are particularly proud of Tourism New Zealand and Destination Queenstown luring Australia’s high-rating Channel 9 Today show for two days of coverage.

And in case you’re wondering about magic moments, the most magic for visitors were the Teddy Bears Picnic, the Undy 500 and Jazz Night.

However, respondents across the board – locals as well as visitors - scored the Opening Party, the Street Parade, Mardi Gras and the Great Comedy Debate top of their list.