Despite economic headwinds, Queenstown and Arrowtown are still performing impressively in the post-Covid era.
That’s the view of Infometrics’ chief executive/principal economist Brad Olsen, who spoke at a business breakfast hosted recently by the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association (APBA).
Visitor arrivals numbers into Queenstown Airport are in creasing significantly, ‘‘far and above what you’re seeing in other airports around the country’’, Olsen tells Mountain Scene.
Last month, total passenger numbers moving through the airport were only slightly down on 2022 — 185,056 compared to 186,403.
Overall, though, year-to-date passengers have already surpassed total passengers last year — more than 1.96 million people have travelled through Queenstown Airport since January, compared to just over 1.86m for all of last year — but are still behind 2019 passenger numbers (2.393m).
However, Olsen notes, ‘‘the rest of the world is going through those challenges we’re facing around high inflation, high interest rates’’.
‘‘That has meant international arrivals into the country have plateaued, they’re at a good level but they’re still below pre-pandemic.’’
Olsen also notes this area’s population has risen more than 8% over the past year, ‘‘the strongest in the country’’.
We’re benefiting, he says, from the internal migration that’s a by-product of Covid due to more people working remotely.
‘‘Around a third of all workers in New Zealand are working from home at some point in their working week.’’
In Arrowtown, for example, it meant its economy was diversifying beyond tourism and construction into professional services, which had the fastest-growing workforce.
About 300 people are now employed in that sector in Arrowtown.
Olsen also notes Queenstown house prices rose 1.9% over the past year, while prices around NZ were about 11% down — Queenstown’s average price being $1.67m and Arrowtown’s $1.83m.
‘‘On the one hand it shows that high level of demand, and that’s sort of encouraging.
‘‘At the same time, $1.6m, $1.8m, is not necessarily the option most people can try and afford — that’s the catch-22 of that.’’