By PHILIP CHANDLER
In the face of the tourist industry’s Covid-19-induced implosion, a Queenstown-based tourism broker’s delighted he’s just been given extra firepower to do his job.
Simon Haslett’s worked in the region for Resort Brokers for the past five years, but that business and brand’s now been taken over by leading New Zealand real estate company, Bayleys, in a deal concluded during the lockdown.
“Resort Brokers was a specialist brokerage and a leader in its field,” Haslett says.
“Joining with a national powerhouse like Bayleys will enable our clients locally and nationally to receive the very best service and value possible.”
Local accommodation business sales he’s concluded include Caples Court, Whistler, Hurley’s and, twice, The Dairy Private Hotel.
Currently he’s again selling the Hurley’s management rights, which come with a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
As an example of Covid-19’s effect on the tourism sector, its asking price has reduced from $3.4 million to $2.5m.
Haslett’s seen tourism’s ups and downs over 15 years in local real estate, and though this crisis is the biggest downturn he’s witnessed, he says it’s creating even more opportunities than usual.
“And we continue to have very good buyer enquiry.”
Bayleys’ national commercial director, Ryan Johnson, has already floated the idea “some existing motel/backpacker stock will become part of the solution for the country’s rental shortage”.
Haslett adds: “Airbnb properties seem to be already changing.”
He’s also proposing a ‘win-win’ solution for the problems presently facing leasehold accommodation properties, which are quite common in Queenstown.
“If someone is a leaseholder with huge rent, often $200,000 to $300,000 or more in this town, then they have a problem with not enough income to support it.
“And the landlord also has a problem, as his asset is going to substantially drop as the tenant probably can’t pay rent, or has reduced rent.
“This is a lose-lose.
“But we have buyers, mostly international, that could take them both out, sometimes without finance.
“Maybe they will repurpose, maybe they will operate, maybe they will close, but it doesn’t matter because our good, hard-working locals have an opportunity to move on.”
Haslett’s also got a lot of faith that domestic tourism alone will give a boost to a lot of Queenstown accommodation properties.
“We make up more than we think, and Kiwis spend a lot overseas, which we can’t now, so there is an opportunity to enjoy our own country and stunning world-class activities.
“And domestic marketing can be more affordable and strategic with perhaps less reliance on the booking.coms who take a good percentage of profits.”
Further down the track, he notes that “international interest in NZ, you could say, has never been better, so the demand is there when the doors open”.