Jets a $7m plus for resort

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Private jet passengers injected more than $7 million into the Queenstown economy last year, with some spending about $10,000 a day.

Forty-five private jets landed in New Zealand last month, and 30 of those came to the resort, Queenstown Corporate Jet Services director Robin Leach says.

Leach, of Auckland, estimates the “conservative” spend per plane in Queenstown was $30,000. Some could spend $10,000 a day, boosting many tourism businesses across the Wakatipu, he says.

This included helicopter operators, caterers, transport providers, fresh produce suppliers and laundry services.

“It’s a market which I think we’ve recently awoken to,” he says.

“There’s a good story here for the whole community, but for it to grow any more, we just need a bit more room.”

Large numbers of private jet visitors are from Europe, the United States and Asia – the latter a growth market with 160 new corporate jets capable of flying non-stop to Queenstown.

Among last month’s high-flying visitors was US pop star Katy Perry, who was relaxing before two Auckland concerts.

Perry, family members and dancers spent several days sightseeing, wining and dining in Queenstown in mid-December.

It is understood she stayed at The Lodge at The Hills, owned by Sir Michael Hill on the grounds of his private golf course.

Other celebrities who have flown into Queenstown by private jet include Robin Williams, John Travolta, Tyra Banks, America’s Next Top Supermodel contestants, Bill Gates, Elton John, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Leach says most “premium visitors” last month arrived between December 23 and January 1, staying about a week each.

Most big-spending visitors are successful businesspeople – particularly new billionaires from China or Hong Kong – or came from old money, he says.

“A lot have owned a private jet for a number of years and they’ve never been down here before.

“Some have two jets [and bring them both].”

Some companies did not allow their directors to all fly on the same aircraft, and sometimes members of wealthy families chose to fly on two private planes.

“The majority of people in New Zealand don’t realise the wealth that’s generated around the world.”

New Zealand is an attractive destination for high flyers – not only is it away from the hurlyburly of cities like London and New York, but New Zealanders are pretty relaxed.

“[They] don’t make a fuss of people like that,” Leach says.

“The majority of people leave them alone and they probably enjoy the fact that they’re not getting stopped by every man and his dog.

“Often [here] people recognise them and make a point of leaving them alone.”

Leach believes the recent terrorist attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo will affect tourism, with New Zealand likely to become “more attractive because it’s seen to be more secure”.

Otago Daily Times