Queenstown Crushed by Big Cancellations

Cancelled just last week, two major events scheduled for Queenstown next month equate to an economic loss of close to $8 million.

Meanwhile, the NZ Sotheby’s International Queenstown Marathon, which injects another $10m into the economy, is hanging in the balance, with a spokesperson saying they’re ‘still working through options for the event’.

The NZ Open was canned last Tuesday, its tournament director Michael Glading noted that the last time it was held, in 2020, it brought in $3.7m of quantifiable economic benefit for Queenstown hospitality and accommodation providers.

‘‘People that go to the vineyards and people go bungy jumping and people that go on jetboats — that’s not included in that figure … I think we can probably guesstimate that it’s probably close to $5m,” Glading said.

Glading is conscious of the “terrible” impact on the region but also on the tournament’s suppliers by making the call they have.

“Without naming names, I mean, we do have suppliers who … this could well push them out of business and it’s awful, it’s really awful.”

Motatapu co-owner Craig Gallagher, who also works on other events, said he’s seen past events give businesses enough of a boost to cover a month’s rent and staff costs. He estimates the Motatapu, also last held in 2020, brings in up to $2.6m in economic benefit.

Hospitality NZ Queenstown regional manager Darelle Jenkins expressed how the hospitality sector’s already been battered by the Red setting.

“It’s disappointing for our industry to have these cancellations considering the sacrifices they’ve made to get to this point.

“The Red traffic light is worse than lockdown for hospitality and accommodation operators — customers are staying away and there is no government support.”

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce boss Ruth Stokes said March was supposed to be the shining light for Queenstown business, but now, the major draw-cards for domestic tourism have been cancelled.

“The government talked about targeted support for those industries that were most affected, but we haven’t seen that come through. With tourism and hospitality vouchers only available in Auckland … it’s not looking promising.

“People have tried really hard to hang on, and want to be there when we do reopen, and the damage that [government] are doing to the New Zealand brand — I would like to see them appreciate that.”