Thursday, 15th August, 2019

Public Transport: 

The second meeting hosted by the NZTA team on the development of a travel demand management plan was held in the first week of August. The purpose of the meeting was to provide stakeholders a list of planned interventions proposed for ‘non-build’ improvements to our public and active transport networks. 
The plan, which may be eligible for NZTA funding under a rapid targeted intervention work stream, is now being finalised and will be submitted for funding consideration within the next month or so.  
Interventions proposed include the establishment of a travel management association that would provide the user input that QLDC and ORC require to improve. 
In my view there is no more important issue for Queenstown. The success of all the commercial, destination, airport and residential plans being developed and rolled out over the next 10 years presuppose a substantial mode shift from single use vehicles to public or active transport.  We must make every dollar invested in transport count. 

The Board and I are pleased to see Mayor Jim Boult’s statement late last week with respect to amending QAC’s Statement of Intent to align airport growth to projected growth forecasts that meet visitor and resident expectations.  We really liked the idea of undertaking social and economic impact analysis (if done well and with integrity) to better understand these issues. 
It is not easy for QLDC. Ratepayers should expect that QLDC maximise the return on their investment in the airport corporation for the benefit of the people in our region. Their contribution to QLDC coffers is substantial ($5.4 million FY18). The direct return to QLDC is minor however when compared to the contribution that visitors make to our region, and the flow on impact to our resident’s economic well-being.
Ratepayers are being asked to accept that QAC dividends may decrease and residents and visitors are warned that forward planning to cope with visitor growth, via the airport, will be slowed. This is not ideal and there is an opportunity cost. Will arrivals by road continue to increase beyond the present 60-70% for instance and cause more congestion?
But Councils (and each one of us) also have a legislative and moral responsibility to care and protect our land, water, human and non-human inhabitants.  
The Chamber expects that we all work to achieve a sustainable future, where we have managed growth, and value is created and shared by all. We need to be mindful however that closing the doors to ‘others’ in favour of ‘us’ is not the way forward.

Bed Tax:
The Cabinet paper has been written and it’s off (with some other local government issues) to Cabinet for consideration this week. Still many more questions than answers about timelines and ways forward in terms of implementation at this stage.  The Chamber wishes to acknowledge the work of the Tax Equity Group, led by Chamber member Nik Kiddle, in advising us on its progress in Wellington.
The TIA, the local Tax Equity Group and the newly formed Hotel Owner’s Group are continuing to reject the bed tax approach and are continuing to call for other ways to fund local government infrastructure for tourism. 
The Chamber acknowledges their ‘reject and present alternatives’ approach, however, is focused on preparing for a possible local implementation and continues to lobby to be involved in the design and implementation of any levy. We wish to ensure that the correct amount of revenue is collected, the cost to consumer is minimised and the burden of collection across accommodation providers is minimised and is equitable.  

Rats and Rodents:
It might be worth reviewing your rodent extermination plans at home or work in the next month or three. Two-legged visitors to our region may be slowing, but sadly this is not the case for four-legged ones. 
We welcomed Wakatipu Wildlife Trust to the Chamber this month. Executive Officer Leslie Van Gelder reminded us at our monthly new members morning tea that this is a mega-mast year, and this means more food for rodents and a resultant population explosion. 
If you want to play a bigger part in keeping Wakatipu predator-free the Trust has volunteering opportunities or would love you to donate a trap. Click here for further details.

Kind regards

Anna Mickell