fbpx

“We’ve Got To Open The Door For Them”: Queenstown Mayor Pushing To Be Open For Business

May 05, 2020
1449 Views

Queenstown must be seen to be open for business if it wants to continue to attract tourists to the town, its mayor says.

Covid-19 has laid Queenstown’s once thriving economy flat, with a projected unemployment rate of up to 30 percent and a forecast humanitarian crisis of migrant workers.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult is well-versed in summing up the state of the town in a no-nonsense, understated manner.

“Things aren’t good. The reality is economic activity here has virtually ceased. Under level 3 we can go out and get a cup of coffee, builders have gone back to work, tradies are back at work but the rest of us are in lockdown at home.

“Tourism businesses are shut and that is the driver of our economy. With tourism businesses shut, there is nothing happening.”

But he said there was little point sitting around wringing hands, and above all, remaining positive was a must.

“We have been dealt a hand, and we’ve got to play it. So our effort is into how we get our business activity going again. We need to ensure we can enable our residents to put a meal on the table for their families, and pay their rent and mortgages.”

Part of that hand playing was to try to get travel restrictions lifted or eased under alert level 2.

The government spent Monday in Cabinet discussing what life would look like under alert level 2, but the country will not find out until next Monday when we will enter the new level.

The prime minister is expected to outline the rules for level 2 on Thursday.

Boult said there needed to be an easing of travel restrictions that would enable domestic tourism to restart, careful consideration of a trans-Tasman bubble and a reconsideration of the crowd restrictions for ski fields.

“We’re sort of restricted to two people per hectare of ski terrain and that seems like a bit of overkill. For the ski season I’m looking for a bit of freedom in that regard.”

As tourism operators around the country, including Queenstown, have begun to announce that they will consider mothballing operations, Boult urged caution.

One of the most high profile operators considering mothballing its tourism businesses for the foreseeable future is Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

It operates the Shotover Jet – which Boult used to own – on the Shotover River, with a concession operator’s license from the council. That means it has exclusive rights granted by the council to operate tours on the river.

A Shotover Jet boat. Photo: Destination Queenstown

So what happens if Ngāi Tahu Tourism does pack up its toys until international tourists return?

Would the Queenstown Lakes District Council let another jet boat business operate in its place?

Boult said he had not been told that Ngāi Tahu Tourism would mothball its tourist operations but knew it was one of its considerations.

“I do wonder if they do that.”

But if they did, the “council would need to take some legal advice on that”.

Boult said he had been telling operators around town that “we need to be careful that we are seen to be open for business.

“So the Earnslaw needs to be going across the lake, the gondola needs to be going up and down, the jet boats need to be up and down the river.

“Because would people come here if they can’t do those activities? No. We all want people to come back but we’ve got to open the door for them.”

Source: rnz.co.nz Republished by arrangement.

Police Seek Witnesses to Edendale Crash
News, Southland
959 views
News, Southland
959 views

Police Seek Witnesses to Edendale Crash

News Desk - Sep 29, 2020

Wyndham and Mataura Police are seeking witnesses to a serious crash that occurred on the the Edendale Woodlands Highway (SH1)…

UPDATED: Snow To Low Levels, Cold Southwesterlies, Severe Gales
News, Southland
1467 views
News, Southland
1467 views

UPDATED: Snow To Low Levels, Cold Southwesterlies, Severe Gales

News Desk - Sep 29, 2020

A strong and very cold southwesterly airstream will bring further snow to low levels in parts the South Island, and…

Latest TVNZ Poll Labour Down, National Up, Act up at 8%
Election 2020, News
215 views
Election 2020, News
215 views

Latest TVNZ Poll Labour Down, National Up, Act up at 8%

News Desk - Sep 29, 2020

TVNZ's latest Colmar Brunton poll has Labour on 47 percent, National on 33 percent - with Labour unable to govern…

Free Public Lecture on How to Keep a Healthy Heart
Health & Fitness, News
459 views
Health & Fitness, News
459 views

Free Public Lecture on How to Keep a Healthy Heart

News Desk - Sep 28, 2020

Southlanders are invited to attend another free public lecture on one of the most common health issues facing people in…

Rakiura Maori Welcome PGF Funding for Wilderness Experience Project
News, Southland
90 views
News, Southland
90 views

Rakiura Maori Welcome PGF Funding for Wilderness Experience Project

News Desk - Sep 28, 2020

The Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) is welcoming a $2.15 million funding boost from the Provincial Growth Fund for its…