Visitor spending projected to hit $11 billion by 2021


Queenstown tourism companies are investing in their businesses as forecasts predict international visitor spending will rise almost 50 per cent over the next six years.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment projected a 48 per cent increase in international visitor spending by 2021, to $11.1 billion – and that China will be New Zealand’s largest market by spending within the next seven years.

The MBIE figures estimate visitor arrivals to New Zealand, which totalled 2.9 million last year, will rise to 3.8 million in 2021.

Southern Discoveries has spent more than $5 million in Queenstown in recent years, including buying a $4 million, 150-passenger catamaran and taking a lease on premises in Queenstown Mall.

Speaking from the Trenz conference in Rotorua, general manager John Robson says the investment decisions were taken in “the doldrums”.

They showed the company’s faith in Queenstown’s long-term growth.

It was a “pretty hefty investment” that was starting to pay off.

Robson says it seemed all tourism operators were having a very good year – which is a feat considering the dog-eat-dog competition of Queenstown.

British and United States markets had come back, he says, but what had tipped the scales from a good year to a great year was “a tidal wave of Chinese” tourists.

Southern Discoveries – which is owned by the Skeggs family, of Dunedin – has also tweaked its schedule of cruises at Milford Sound and plans to enlarge its VIP lounge on flagship vessel Pride of Milford.

• Glenorchy’s Dart River Jet has a new 14-seat jet-boat, which was launched just before Chinese New Year, and has brought on six new 32-seat, four-wheel-drive buses.

Dart River Jet is a subsidiary of Ngai Tahu Tourism.