Monday, 5th September, 2016

CEO UPDATE:

Spring has officially arrived and by all accounts the strong trading period should continue on through the so called ‘shoulder season’ and business confidence remains high due to unprecedented growth in tourism and the continued growth in the residential and commercial property markets.

The local body elections are coming up soon, with the major pre-election debate hosted by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce - Meet the Wakatipu Candidates & Mayoral Debate next Tuesday 13 September at Queenstown Memorial Centre 5:30pm-8:00pm. With 5 mayoral candidates and 14 Wakatipu ward candidates standing, this will be an interesting debate. The evening will be hosted by well-known broadcaster Sean Plunket and attendance is free. I would like to encourage all members and guests to attend and ask your pressing questions. Click here to register for seating purposes.

A reminder that entries for the 2016 Westpac Queenstown Business Awards close on the 22nd September, so there is still plenty of time to put your entry in. Enter the awards NOW to lift your business profile, highlight your successes and enhance your business processes. The awards entry process is simple and straight forward. The first step is to complete the attached registration form, then complete the entry form.
Click here for full awards details.

Visitor levy to support growth in the district - the recent visit to Queenstown by Prime Minister John Key gave the Chamber an opportunity to talk through some of our research findings on the visitor levy situation.

The following is some key information obtained as part of our ongoing research. Our report is still being finalised, and we hope to share more information with you soon, but here’s a summary of what we discussed with the Prime Minister:

Queenstown is experiencing much higher growth in visitors than other regional tourist destinations and similar to the growth experienced by Auckland.
Queenstown receives 1.5 million visitors annually, approximately 50 per head of resident population, which is 25 times that experienced by Auckland.
Queenstown provides nearly as many international guest nights (2.6m) as Auckland (3.0m), despite having a fraction of the population. Queenstown services a visitor loading, measured on a “residential equivalent” basis, over 16 times that of Auckland, and over three times higher than any other major tourist destination in New Zealand.
Queenstown hosts, during its busiest month, 5.7 visitors for every resident, much higher than any other tourist destination in New Zealand – 25 times that experienced by Auckland and 12 times higher than that experienced by Auckland during the Rugby World Cup.
Funding mechanisms currently utilised by QLDC – primarily targeted and general rates – will not fund the resort’s necessary facilities and services, efficiently and fairly. Residents and local businesses would need to meet the cost of tourist-driven capacity out of all proportion with that met by ratepayers elsewhere in New Zealand.
To not invest properly in this tourism capacity would put the district at a significant risk of losing its hard-won international reputation.
A strong governance arrangement (including consultation) needs to be designed to ensure the appropriation of funds to projects is efficient and that there is the ability to differentiate visitors and other users of services.
Collection efficiency, reconciliation, compliance costs and enforcement regimes needs to be designed.
We need the commitment of Central Government to work with Queenstown Lakes stakeholders to deliver a workable solution.
We would like to reiterate to members that while the Queenstown Chamber is in favour of a ‘tourism improvement levy’, we have no fixed view on how it should be applied. Our role, in undertaking this independent research, is to make a case for alternative funding to make Queenstown an exceptional place to live, work and visit for many years to come. We believe there is an acute need to address how we fund growth, and our initial findings back this up. The next step, as we continue to finalise our report, is to continue discussions with Central Government and other relevant stakeholders to explore how a visitor levy might be applied.