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Covid victim: Former DQ Asia international markets manager Ella Zhang, right, with, from left, former DQ boss Graham Budd, Karen Boult and her husband, mayor Jim Boult

TWO more Destination Queenstown staff have been made redundant.

In a statement, DQ interim boss Ann Lockhart says it’s ‘‘with much regret’’ the board’s disestablished the international markets manager roles for both Asia and Western, held, respectively, by Ella Zhang and Kate Baxter.

It follows last month’s announcement DQ, which received $1 million from the tourism sector recovery plan, announced at the end of July, had also made former Queenstown Winter Festival director Harald Ulriksen redundant.

Lockhart says the latest restructure’s in ‘‘no way’’ reflective of the capability of the individuals affected, ‘‘both of whom have proven their skills at [DQ] and have been highly-regarded and valued team members’’.

Zhang, who’s been with the regional tourism organisation six years and played a key role in
establishing a Sister City relationship with Hangzhou, says she’s got ‘‘mixed feelings’’ about
the decision.

‘‘Personally, I had a blast.

‘‘I loved the job but [after] six years it’s probably time for me to look at some other areas, but it is a shame.

‘‘I’m disappointed, I’m not going to lie to you.’’

Lockhart’s statement says DQ ‘‘recognises the important role the international travel trade plays in bringing visitors to our district’’.

‘‘But with no visibility of when ongoing international trade will recommence, it is prudent to
consider the level of resources in this area in the meantime.’’

But Zhang says in time the borders will reopen, and it’s important Queenstown’s still well
placed to capitalise on the lucrative Asian market, in particular, China.

It, she says, is heavily reliant on connections and relationships — one of her achievements has been to build those, making up to 15 trips to China during her tenure, and the role she’s played in helping resort business leaders ‘‘understand China and the Chinese market’’.

‘‘Not just from a language perspective, but how to do business in China.

‘‘Obviously, we’ve got to maintain the relationships and when the borders reopen, everyone will be after China, trying to get their visitors, and DQ always used to be well positioned to capture that market.’’

Zhang says the ‘‘doors are wide open’’ for her next move, and she’s contemplating focusing more on consultancy and using her skills and experience to help market China to other businesses.

She’ll also resume her role as Frankton Community Association chair, and has recently become a trustee of Sustainable Queenstown.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz