We’re off gaydar as festival is axed

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The organiser/founder of Queenstown’s ninth Gay Ski Week, due to start this Saturday, has pulled the plug. 

Mike Sanford is putting his company, Livewire Group, into voluntary liquidation after failing to raise $25,000 to meet pre-payment commitments. 

“After nine years I still don’t believe our tourism leaders locally or nationally know or want to know the value of the pink dollar,” he says. 

Last year’s festival, attended by about 700 gay men and women, contributed $1.2 million to the Queenstown economy, Sanford claims. 

However fewer than half those numbers were expected this year due to the economic climate, ash clouds disrupting flights, late snow and, particularly, a date change to avoid clashing with Rugby World Cup, Sanford says. 

“It’s a bastard, nine years down the toilet – I’ve been promoting the arse off the event.” 

Local restaurateur Mark Jessop, who was to host Saturday’s opening party, says: “I would like to express my gratitude for what Mike has done over the years. 

“It would be a shame if the whole thing fails completely and no one else picks it up.”