Corporate biz ‘off the charts’

Business is booming: HQ New Zealand boss Rob Stewart-McDonald

The tap’s been turned on to full blast for Queenstown’s conference and incentive market, with bookings ‘‘off the charts’’.

HQ New Zealand boss Rob Stewart-McDonald says after ‘‘no revenue’’ in the eight months to May, his company’s now got about 12 months’ work to squeeze in between now and November.

His two biggest clients will likely bring in more than $1.5 million each to the local economy, and collectively, across all clients over the next four months, he estimates an injection of
up to $20m.

Stewart-McDonald says clients are largely understanding of nationwide staffing shortages, and of the 12 groups he’s hosted since the end of May, all have had an ‘‘excellent’’ experience.

‘‘[Queenstown] is still the destination on earth that has more activities than any other destination, in a place where the scenery is world-class and the food and wine are excellent.

‘‘100%, people want to come.’’

A spotlight on local conservation projects

In a first for Queenstown, the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network will bring its biennial conference here in December.

The conference was initially planned to go ahead in May, but was postponed.

Whakatipu Reforestation Trust education and outreach officer Jo Smith, who’s helping organisers with logistics, says she’s wanted the conference to visit Queenstown for some time.

‘‘A lot of people sort of perceive Queenstown as the place not that relevant for conservation … it’s overpriced … you know, there’s just that kind of stigma, when there’s actually a lot of amazing stuff going on, and especially since Covid, a lot more restoration focus projects have popped up around the Lakes district.’’

Aligning the work going on locally, particularly with the removal of wilding conifers and native replanting, the conference’s main theme is ‘restoration’ and will include several field trips around the Whakatipu.

‘‘We’ve tried to pick all those topics to reflect what is sort of going on locally and what would actually benefit people locally,’’ Smith says.

It’s also a great opportunity for locals in volved in conservation to network and soak up the expertise of the ‘‘incredibly skilled and talented people’’ who’ll be attending.

The conference is scheduled to run from December 4 to 7.

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