A Queenstown  tourism company will know within the next month if it will be able to sell alcohol from a souvenir shop, a move some agencies believe would set a precedent for the resort.

Skyline Enterprises Ltd appeared before the District Licensing Committee in Queenstown on Thursday last week, seeking a complementary off-licence to enable it to sell pre-packaged New Zealand and Central Otago wine, beer and spirits from its souvenir shop in the gondola complex.

It sought for the hours of the licence to be from 9am until 11pm, to give the company some flexibility and to assist with future-proofing.

Skyline food and beverage manager Pierre Poyet said while children could access the store, they must be accompanied by an adult.

No opened alcohol would be permitted to leave the premises and a duty manager would be present at all times.

The primary concern for the police and Public Health South was the potential for a proliferation of liquor licences being sought by the operators of other souvenir shops in the Queenstown CBD, should Skyline be granted one.

But Queenstown Lakes District Council liquor licensing inspector Jen Mitchell did not believe that would occur.

Under the Act, a complementary off-licence must not be issued if the shop’s principal business is the sale of food. Honey is defined as food.

In Skyline’s case, more than 85% of the souvenir shop’s annual sales were derived from products other than food and it did not have a focus on honey.

However, many other souvenir shops in the CBD sold honey for between $9 and $500 and its product placement indicated it was “clearly a sales driver”, Ms Mitchell said.

For any other souvenir shop to be granted a complementary off-licence, it would have to make a choice between continuing to sell honey, or selling alcohol in competition with other businesses with off-licences in and around the CBD.

Public Health South medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell was concerned about potentially adding to the “phenomenal number” of licensed premises in the town.

However, Ms Mitchell said Skyline’s application could not be declined on that basis.

The only way to limit the number of licensed premises was through a local alcohol policy (LAP) – and the Queenstown Lakes district did not have one.

Chairman Judge Bill Unwin and committee members Lyal Cocks and John Mann reserved their decision.
Otago Daily Times