Organisers of New Zealand’s biggest elite snow sports fixture are promising a massive off-mountain festival calendar to grow the event more.
Winter Games CEO Arthur Klap says the biennial event “needs to have a much bigger connection with the community”.
Speaking at a Queenstown Chamber of Commerce luncheon today, Klap says holding downtown festivals in the host towns of Queenstown, Wanaka, Dunedin, Naseby and Methven will help grow Games visitor numbers to 25,000 in the longer-term.
“If you go back to the [inaugural] 2009 Games, what was happening up the hill was great. But downtown, you’d walk around Dunedin and Queenstown and not know that the Games were on,” he says.
“We need to counter that and we need to engage the community much more.”
Details of the festivals will be announced shortly – “But I can say that the aim of that is to attract the non-skier and snowboarder, the non-competitor”, Klap says.
“Because if we just stay an elite sports event, we will always stay small. The growth will come from out of Australia and North America and the North Island. That’ll attract the soft or casual skier or snowboarder – and that’s where the growth will be.”
This year’s Winter Games have expanded from a nine-day event to 16 days, from August 13-28.
Klap’s also hoping to attract more than the 2009 Games’ 860 competitors from 41 countries for the second event.
Klap told more than 200 local businesspeople at the luncheon that this year’s Games is “on track”.
“It’s unbelievably exciting, the direction we’re heading in and we really welcome all the opportunities to work with local businesses – because in the end, the whole aim of this is to grow this, so that you can grow.”