DQ boss Pahl backtracks

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Queenstown’s tourism boss has changed an unpopular decision to ditch the resort’s most important source of conference business.

A week ago, Destination Queenstown boss Stephen Pahl told Australia-based marketing rep Jana Kingston – who touts for conferences – that her company’s contract would terminate at the end of next month.

The job would then be handled by DQ’s local convention bureau staff – with a beefed-up budget.

Pahl admits Kingston’s consultancy “was an early casualty while framing our budget”.

But after a hostile reaction from tourism operators, Pahl is now allowing the Kingston consultancy to run till her contract term expires at the end of August.

However, he says Kingston’s “lobbying…to some of our industry operators…was a little unprofessional and told only part of the full story”.

Pahl says Melbourne-based Kingston is entitled to re-tender for a new contract but he’s adamant the Aussie market must be serviced from Sydney, where she lived when first taking up her contract almost four years ago.

Mountain Scene understands, however, that Kingston sources as many conferences out of Melbourne as Sydney.

Local Millennium hotelier John Clarke, who concentrates on the conference and incentive market, is “reassured” DQ will continue with an on-the-ground Aussie presence.

“We’ve seen the benefit of having someone over there who is able to approach the market a lot more often and quite effectively.

“Australia is the most important market we’ve got and the conference and incentive market is the most [lucrative] market that Queenstown’s got.”

Clarke says the job doesn’t have to be based in Sydney. “I personally believe there’s business in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – if we had more money, I’d want to see two people [in Australia].”

Kingston says she can’t comment on her contract.

“All I will say is that I am extremely committed to Queenstown and its promotion to the Australian MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and events] market.

“I would certainly love to continue working with not only [DQ’s] Queenstown Convention Bureau team in the future, but also our many dynamic and passionate MICE operators.”

According to an industry source, of 46 conference leads pursued by the Convention Bureau this year, Kingston has brought in 43.