‘Time’s right for spend-up’

SHARE

Kiwibank’s chief economist says conditions are ripe to splash out on Queenstown infrastructure.

But Jarrod Kerr, in town last week to give a keynote speech at the three-day New Zealand Society of Actuaries conference, says it’s up to locals whether expansion is what they really want.

“Broadly speaking, a lot of things are going in the right direction [economically],” he tells Mountain Scene

“Our currency has de-preciated, I think it will depreciate a little bit more over the next year, so Queenstown is going on sale from a foreigner’s perspective, it’ll be 20 per cent cheaper to go there.”

He adds: “We’ve got low interest rates and the central bank’s telling us not to worry about interest rates so why don’t we crack on a bit of debt or introduce tourist levies – do what we need to do to expand.”

But, he says, even if conditions are favourable to raise money for infrastructure, deeper questions remain. “The thing about places like Queenstown is I don’t know how much you can handle down there.

“If you’re saying you don’t want to handle much more because you’re going to hurt the integrity of the place, damage the beauty of the place, well then that’s a different question altogether.”

If infrastructure kept pace with demand, though, the antipathy towards the tourism boom could lessen.

“It’s when you feel it, that it hurts local people.”

Kerr says Queenstown is one of the places economists look to when they want take the temperature of the economy, and see the impact of such things as the foreign buyer ban.

He thinks it will have an impact but perhaps not a major impact.

“Queenstown has always been in my opinion a global market.

“It attracts some of the wealthiest individuals who want a piece of paradise. How that changes from now on will be quite interesting.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz