Fighting negative perceptions

Destination Queenstown's Graham Budd

Pushing back against growing community hostility to tourism will be a focus for Destination Queenstown (DQ) in the coming year.

The resort promo organisation released its annual plan to Mountain Scene, which outlines how it hopes to manage international headwinds in some markets and community resistance.

Boss Graham Budd says the parallel growth in both visitor numbers and Queenstown’s population has “confused some people” and has led to concern around infrastructure in particular.

He says DQ is planning to up its communication game around that, and the importance of tourism to the local economy.

“We need to do that in an authentic and genuine way, rather than try to paste over it or put a spin on it.”

The annual plan also sets out three growth goals over the next three years – five per cent value growth, 2.5 per cent volume growth, and a $2.5 billion visitor spend.

It also notes hotel capacity’s set to jump 30 per cent, from 3000 rooms to 4000, by May 2020 thanks to new developments.

Budd says some markets, such as China, are flattening, while others, such as the USA, are set to grow.

As for the future of Winter Festival, DQ’s flagship event, there are no plans to scrap it after this year’s 45th iteration.

“There’s no plan not to continue it after this year,” he says.

About 150 DQ members recently voted to ask the council for a $900,000 funding boost, which would be used to increase DQ’s investment in Australian market activity, domestic shoulder season marketing and the festival.

Queenstown’s council asked for clarity over its budgets – including whether WinterFest has a future.

The 150 voters came from the organisation’s 900-odd registered members, from a pool of more than 5600 commercial ratepayers.

Budd doesn’t believe there’s apathy amongst the business community.

“I’m pretty happy with 150 voters, I genuinely feel that’s a good reflection of the support we have,” he says.