The loss of Christchurch Rugby World Cup games is being blamed for Queenstown hotel occupancies plummeting.
New Zealand Hotel Council’s Queenstown chairman Penny Clark says the local industry may have suffered its worst October ever.
Clark says she’s heard from ski wholesalers in town reporting occupancy rates as low as 28 per cent for October.
Hoteliers knew Queenstown was in trouble when Christchurch lost its World Cup games – especially an October quarter-final – following February’s devastating earthquake.
“If the rugby had been in Christchurch, then we would have had the flow-on of the customers,” Clark says.
Wholesalers also found it too hard to sell NZ package tours while the RWC was on, she adds.
“They put all their efforts into getting some business in November and December, which should pay off.”
Clark’s own Goldridge Resort hasn’t replaced staff who left after winter, she says.
“I’ve also let one of my staff go just to try to take pressure off us.”
One long-time Queenstowner – who doesn’t want to be named – also lost his job as a local maintenance subcontractor ‘cause, as he puts it, “the RWC just didn’t turn up”.
A lot of casual hotel workers were reduced to working 20 hours a week, he adds.
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside boss Jim Moore says his hotel “didn’t get any of the pick-up from RWC that we would have hoped for”.
“I think that was caused by the fact that all the major games were on in the North Island, and obviously the lack of games in Christchurch.”
Coronet Peak Hotel boss David Mercer feels Queenstown missed out by not having a fan zone.
“Some sort of heart that people would come to and feel like there was something ‘rugby’ going on.”
It’s not all doom and gloom – The Rees Hotel general manager Mark Rose says his business is up on last October.
“We’re pleased with what we got, especially following the issues with the earthquake.
“I believe the people we got in October were the sort of people that NZ needs to attract – the high-end punter.”
Rose, like other hoteliers, is optimistic about summer.
Clark says there’s “a little bit of nervousness” that Kiwis who’ve spent up large attending RWC games won’t be able to afford a holiday here.