Destination Queenstown is playing a big part in shoring up South Island tourism after Christchurch’s February earthquake.
The finding comes in a six-monthly report by DQ boss Tony Everitt to be tabled at Tuesday’s Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting.
After the quake, Everitt says, DQ worked with other key tourism players “in accommodating diverted visitors, rescheduling media and film crew itineraries, and communicating to trade and conference-incentive contacts worldwide on Queenstown’s status”.
Shortly after the quake, with a major promotion scheduled in Malaysia to launch Air Asia X’s new flights to Christchurch, DQ was asked to send trade manager Ben Chapman to Kuala Lumpur with a “come to the South Island” message instead.
“Now that the airline has launched, we are seeing evidence that these visitors are indeed travelling on to Queenstown as predicted,” Everitt reports to QLDC.
DQ’s Convention Bureau also played an important post-quake role.
Some conferences booked for Christchurch have been diverted to Queenstown instead, Everitt says, rather than being lost to the South Island altogether.
“Overseas organisers of upcoming conferences in Queenstown were [also] provided with reassurance that the quake had no direct impact on our resort’s infrastructure,” he adds.
The Everitt report contains a revelatory post-quake statistic.
After Auckland Supercity, Queenstown now has New Zealand’s “second largest bank of operational commercial accommodation – lodges, hotels, motels, apartments, backpackers and camping grounds,” the DQ boss says.
However, the promotion body’s post-quake work isn’t over, with DQ continuing to work with Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, Christchurch International Airport and other South Island tourism groups.
Everitt: “A strong [South Island tourism] economy will be vital to helping Christchurch get back on its feet.”
On a cautionary note, Everitt tells QLDC that Queensland’s floods, Christchurch’s earthquake and Japan’s seismic-tsunami disaster mean “temporary disruptions to normal visitor flows”.
Nevertheless, figures from the Hotel Council of New Zealand for the 12 months to February indicate a five per cent growth in Queenstown visitor nights, he adds.
And looking ahead to the coming ski season, Everitt points out there will be 30 trans-Tasman flights per week this winter – double the number two years ago.