Notes on the tourism scene

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So Rotorua has come out with a new marketing campaign which claims it’s the adventure capital of New Zealand. 

Excuse me? 

We all know that mantle belongs to Queenstown, which isn’t just widely regarded as the adventure capital of the country, it’s known as the adventure capital of the world. 

Not that it’s something Queenstown marketers have ever claimed – it was a title bestowed upon us from afar and guidebook writers. 

To try to claim the title for yourself is, in the words of one Queenstown tourism company boss, just lame. 

But just to throw it down … we started commercial bungy, we have Chuck Berry, and when you Google 
“Queenstown adventure capital” you get 230,000 results versus less than half that – just 87,000 – when you do the same for Rotorua. Just saying.

Part of the reason Queenstown has never bothered to promote itself as the adventure capital of anywhere – aside from the fact that, like gravity, it’s just widely accepted – is the place is about so much more. 

Yes, we have adrenaline-fuelled thrills by the jetboat load but we’re also the party capital, the pinot noir capital, the scenery capital and the burger capital of New Zealand. And now the swinging capital (just kidding, I wouldn’t know).

Great to see Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd wading into the tourism tax debate.
For the first time in a long while someone in that role – which has been typically apolitical – has put a stake in the ground on a pivotal matter for town. 

This whole debate, which Queenstown has been talking about on and off since 1974 according to a Mountain Scene editorial from that year, is far too important to have one of our most important and knowledgeable figureheads sitting on the fence.

Speaking of Budd, you may have noticed a few weeks back that national airline Air New Zealand decided to chop up to 20 per cent off fares for many domestic routes. 

The move came after an invite-only ‘Think Regional’ tourism forum in Nelson last month, attended by a strong Queenstown contingent including Budd, local Chamber boss Ann Lockhart and Queenstown Airport’s aeronautical boss Simon Barr. 

The idea of the forum was to discuss ways to stimulate domestic tourism – and a little birdie tells me Budd and co made it pretty clear that cheaper to travel would be a big help. Days later Air NZ made its announcement.

I hate to say “I told you so” (actually “hate” is a strong term, it probably doesn’t pain me that much) but Parting 
Shot did back Budd for the DQ top job earlier this year when it was announced then-DQ chief executive Tony Everitt was departing for a new gig in China. 

Budd, the best man for the job, was right under our noses and had already been overlooked for Australian Stephen Pahl, who lasted just eight months before resigning. 

It seems the DQ board made the right call giving Budd the nod. So far, so good.

In case you missed it on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report this week, the Queenstown-based boss of Great Southern TV Productions Phil Smith, who brought you hit shows Eating Media Lunch and Remarkable Vets, did a top job backing Prime Minister John Key’s trip to Hollywood to promote New Zealand as a destination for major films. 

Key’s Hollywood visit, starting yesterday, has attracted flak in the wake of the Kim Dotcom saga as just another example of the country bending over backwards to assuage United States’ interests. 

Not so, Smith told Morning Report: “Basically, Key has said he’s planned this for months and you’d be insane not to travel the world when you’ve got a $3 billion dollar industry now. I mean dairy is $11 billion, meat’s six, forestry’s four and film’s three. If he was going overseas and selling meat or wood we wouldn’t be worried about it. 

“I think it’s a legitimate massive industry for NZ. It drives almost an entire city so I think Key is well within his rights to just go there and simply talk up major blockbuster film projects in NZ.” 

Well said, that man.