Diversifying resort economy



If anyone’s well placed to appreciate Queenstown’s need to diversify from its formerly tourism-dependent economy, it’s Sharon Fifield.

Last time she lived in the resort — from 2000 to ’05 — the-then Sharon Wesney was  embedded in tourism, initially as a Destination Queenstown marketing coordinator, then comms manager, then as AJ Hackett Bungy’s comms/media manager.

In early 2019, after 14 years overseas in major government and corporate roles, she joined
Queenstown council’s economic development unit as a senior advisor.

As her first job out of uni, marketing the resort was ‘‘pretty much the dream job, really, ’cos it was my job to take people around and show them how good Queenstown is’’.

‘‘Tourism was booming — I remember writing the press release about one million visitors, it
was like ‘wow’.’’

In her current role, she’s now helping Queenstown ‘‘build up more opportunity outside of tourism, and making us more resilient, ’cos tourism accounted for about 60% of all the jobs here, before Covid’’.

‘‘Diversification was always on the agenda, but Covid and seeing people shed jobs without anywhere else to go is, like, we can’t go through this again.’’

Fifield says there’s a much broader range of jobs now, including many in the tech area, while far more people are working remotely.

She got a good feel for diversification in her prior role as Australia Post’s senior marketing

‘‘No one was sending letters anymore, so it all became around e-commerce, and my role was, how do we get more Australians to shop online?

‘‘NZ Post is doing it now.’’

That role and her current one have drawn rave reviews.

A former boss said her ‘‘positive energy, passion and caring nature has seen her create the most positive culture here at Australia Post which stayed strong through turbulent times’’.

Local career coach Melissa Jenner says she’s ‘‘played a huge role in the recovery of Queenstown through one of its toughest economic threats, and [she] brings people up in the process’’.