SkyCity boss mulls WinterFest SOS

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Casino giant SkyCity is considering helping out Queenstown’s cash-strapped Winter Festival. 

SkyCity Entertainment Group chief executive Nigel Morrison tells Mountain Scene his company is talking to festival organisers, who are dealing with the recent shock loss of longstanding partner and one of its major sponsors Air New Zealand. 

Air NZ’s sponsorship pull-out means some community events during the popular 10-day festival are at risk, as revealed in Mountain Scene two weeks ago. 

Morrison says SkyCity, which already sponsors Winter Festival, will “have a look” at more support for the event.

However, he hints it may be a bit late to commit to this year’s event in June. 

“It’s probably a little bit premature for us, I can see us doing it in 12 months’ time but it doesn’t mean we won’t have a look at it for this year. 

“We’d probably have a look at doing something more significant in the future.” 

SkyCity, the country’s sixth-largest NZX-listed company which recently took full ownership of its Queenstown casino by buying Skyline’s 40 per cent stake, is a major supporter of this month’s NZ PGA pro-am tournament at The Hills golf course in Arrowtown. 

“We can’t do everything and we’ll be selective but certainly we’d like to make a contribution to enhancing the calibre of events for tourism in Queenstown,” Morrison adds. 

Winter Festival director Lisa Buckingham says she can’t comment on any sponsorship discussions at this stage.
SkyCity, which announced a normalised net profit after tax of $74.4 million for the six months ending December 31, 2012, is committed to investing in Queenstown, Morrison says. 

“We do see a big opportunity in Queenstown as it continues to grow as a major tourism destination.”