Winter Pride’s funding fracas

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By HUGH COLLINS

The organiser of Queenstown’s annual Winter Pride’s staggered he hasn’t received support from a ratepayer-funded tourism body.

Martin King wrote to Destination Queenstown, City Hall and Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce at the start of May in a bid for financial help for the 2020 event.

Last year the 10-day festival brought $15 million into Queenstown’s economy.

Covid-19’s meant down-sizing and focusing on a domestic event, but King says it’ll still help drive the resort’s recovery.

Council has since said it’s reopening events funding for 2020 and would support him to get an application through.

But DQ’s said funding events — other than the now-canned WinterFest — isn’t in its mandate.

King says that’s disappointing given DQ’s got a large amount of ratepayer funding.

‘‘I knew their funding was for tourism marketing.

‘‘But given these unprecedented times and the fact we are supposed to be marketing to help rebuild Queenstown, I thought potentially they would think outside the square and look to do something different.”

DQ told him the best it could do was promote Winter Pride on its digital channels, he says.

“We don’t need promotion of the events itself,’’ King says.

‘‘LGBT tourism marketing is quite niche.

“What we need is financial support to underwrite and enable the festival so that when our
guests turn up there’s events to go to.”

DQ interim boss Ann Lockhart says the RTO hasn’t funded events since City Hall’s own events office was established and a contestable fund was made available to events in the district.

DQ owns WinterFest, and some of its budget’s allocated to fund festival staff each year.

This year, she says, WinterFest would have found itself in ‘‘the same difficult situation as many other events’’ — unable to secure sponsorship funding.

Its 2020 budget’s been ‘‘re-directed’’ to do a review of the district’s events strategy, together with City Hall and Lake Wanaka Tourism, Lockhart says.

DQ ‘‘recognises the value’’ of events and supports them through promotion on its website, social channels and using its media network to leverage events to attract visitation to Queenstown, she says.

hugh.collins@scene.co.nz