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New boss: Destination Queenstown's new CEO Mat Woods is ready to get the resort up and running

By LUCY WORMALD

It’s a big job, but Destination Queenstown’s (DQ) new CEO’s excited to be part of the resort’s Covid recovery.

Although only five days into the role, Mat Woods has a clear set of priorities for DQ, starting with understanding the support his team and DQ members need to get Queenstown’s tourism sector back on its feet.

‘‘So [I’m] just meeting as many people as I can, and understanding their Covid story and what the constraints are,’’ he says.

Hearing the consistent message around staffing constraints ‘‘loud and clear’’, Woods says while the demand is ‘‘great’’, he’s equally aware staffing levels are a barrier to delivering
the service people expect in Queenstown.

‘‘Staffing is definitely one of the big issues, you can’t deny that or turn a blind eye to it, and so that’s going to take a bit of work to get through.’’

He acknowledges town also faces difficulties in having ‘‘a lot of shovel-ready projects being finished’’, and finding fleet capacity to match visitor demand.

‘‘If you think about the rental car fleet going from 60,000 rental cars to 30,000 rental cars throughout New Zealand, that’s a major issue.’’

Woods says they’re listen ing to operators’ needs, ‘‘and then we can work out what we can do to add value and how we can implement some changes there’’.

Previously sales and services head for both Cardrona and Treble Cone, and RealNZ’s Queenstown Experience GM, ‘‘being in the experiences’’ sets Woods in good stead to
understand ‘‘the pain that it’s been to actually hang on and operate’’ during the pandemic.

‘‘I get what it’s like to be the operator, and I’m excited to see that change.’’

Also chair of Lake Wānaka Tourism, he says the recent scrapping of pre-departure testing will help the sector dramatically, and Queenstown’s fresh dump of snow means winter’s
looking strong.

Looking ahead, he’s focusing on generating demand for spring and summer travel, and re-
establishing connectivity with airlines.

‘‘If we look at those key markets, one being domestic — and I think we’ve learned during Covid that domestic is really important — and then Australia as well, and then selected long-haul … they’re the kind of the big things were looking at.’’

But he’s also wanting to strengthen DQ’s relationship with the community.

‘‘We’ve heard what the community have said … pre-Covid, I think we’d lost a lot of our social licence, and so it’s actually how do we grow and rebuild and listen to the community and take them on and be part of that journey as well.’’

lucy.wormald@scene.co.nz