Wednesday, 24th July, 2019
With the weather getting colder, I have been leaving my trusty e-bike at home and have been enjoying catching the bus. This morning, a minute or two late leaving home, I galloped towards the bus stop hoping that I would get there in time. The bus driver was also concerned about being late. Instead of following the prescribed route, he did a U-turn to the turning bay to save a few minutes. My two-minute advantage was lost, and I was left, with a bag of kumara, on the side of the road looking at his taillights.
Predictability of public transport distinguishes quality. There are many headwinds for ORC, QLDC and their supplier Ritchie's to achieving service predictability which go well beyond traffic congestion. Driver training and availability, user training and expectations, timetable and service communication, service disruption and event planning, destination management and ticketing all play a massive role in the development of a high-quality public transport network across our region. All of us have to work together to optimise ratepayer and user investment in public transport and we are just beginning to learn how to do this.
The Chamber, therefore, is supporting the NZTA initiative to investigate the funding and establishment of a private-public Transport Management Association (TMA) and a travel demand management plan. It is intended that the TMA will be led by the business sector and membership will be representative of the sectors and industries in the area. Residents’ associations should be represented on the board, and government, transport operators and suppliers could be non-voting members. It is our view that the business community involvement needs to extend beyond mere engagement to shaping the development and prioritisation of service delivery.
I am working on the interim working group on behalf of our members and their staff and will continue to keep members informed of our progress on our website, in my regular CEO verbal updates and on our Facebook page.
Draft Frankton Masterplan:
Thanks to our members who took the time to meet with me in Frankton to help me shape the Chamber response to the Draft Frankton Masterplan. This well-considered plan, developed under the watchful eye of QLDC super-consultant Gabrielle Tabron, was the result of many hours of community consultation and planner contribution. The Chamber overall endorsed the intent of the plan to link Frankton with circulating shuttles and providing a place for living, working, studying and playing within a geographically discrete area.
We support and endorse the move from private vehicle access to public and active transport over time. We expressed our concern with the potential for congestion moving SH6 to an urban arterial road and the loss of industrial land available for business support.
We requested that more information was made available on how visitors to Queenstown will transition from private vehicles to public transport prior to the entrance/exit point bridges for this plan to be able to be realised. Understanding how park and ride and rental car parking will be handled is also not explained.
You can read our full submission here.
Local Visitor Levy:
I have been continuing to work with our accommodation sector members to request information on the process that is occurring in central and local government with respect to the application of a local bed tax. I have not yet had any answers, which, given that this is a new type of tax for New Zealand, is not surprising.
It is my view, and that of our accommodation members who wish to engage meaningfully in the bed tax design process, that application needs careful thought. Issues raised thus far include whether the tax is commission bearing or not, and the extent to which the cost of collection is passed to accommodation providers (benefiting online travel agents (OTA) and credit card companies). A distinguishing factor of the accommodation sector pricing is the opaque nature of pricing in different channels. There is some concern that poor application of the tax may expose this pricing, and as a result we may see a change in behaviour in the market. The definition of customer is also causing some concern and how a provider knows what price the room has been sold for in the wholesale channel at point of check out. Overlaying this issue is the fact that overseas transactions need a tidy up with respect to GST in many parts of the accommodation sector. Is the application of the bed tax an opportunity to look under the hood at how many of the OTAs are charging or paying tax correctly?
The Chamber wants to see a smart tax which benefits us all here in Queenstown to the maximum possible benefit. Thanks to those members who have helped me over the past few weeks begin this work in preparation for meaningful and genuine stakeholder contribution.
I am commencing fuller updates on my advocacy work at regular CEO updates. I encourage you to attend this free briefing on 7 August, 4.30pm at Skycity. Register to attend by clicking here.
It’s been a great first six months with the Chamber! Time for my first bit of annual leave. Back on the 5th of August.