By MATTHEW MCKEW
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis will visit Queenstown in the “near future” and understands the resort faces hardships, his office says.
It comes on the back of sustained pressure from Mountain Scene, including a column by editor Tracey Roxburgh that hit national headlines.
Davis sidestepped questions about Queenstown when he appeared on TVNZ’s Breakfast to defend his record last week, but a spokesman from his office now says a visit’s on the cards.
“He absolutely does intend to come down in the near future.”
The minister is “well aware” of the “current pressure Queenstown is under” and a date will be given soon.
Mayor Jim Boult says a personal visit is far more effective than any Zoom meeting or phone chat, but adds he’s only had one conversation with the minister since lockdown isn’t aware of the impending visit.
“We are, without argument, the most important town as far as the tourism industry is concerned in New Zealand,” Boult says.
“The minister is the Minister of Tourism, which is the industry that drives this town and prior to Covid was NZ’s largest industry in terms of generating overseas revenue.”
Davis’ office suggests tourism operators in Queenstown apply for strategic tourism asset funding.
But, Boult says it’s unclear who qualifies for the cash.
“To an extent, you would almost argue the whole of Queenstown’s tourism business is a strategic asset, given its importance in attracting overseas visitors to NZ.
“Clearly that is not going to happen, but certainly I would be encouraging businesses that do think they fall into that category to make an application.”
Queenstown did host a minister last week Friday Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced $100,000 to create 16 new jobs at the Skippers Canyon wilding control project.
The money is seed funding ahead of an expectation Queenstown will receive several million dollars towards wilding projects in the coming weeks.
It’s part of a government move to create alternatives to tourism jobs.