Alpine city future seen for resort

Clive Geddes
Clive Geddes
It was not unrealistic that within 40 years Queenstown would be an alpine city with a resident population of up to 65,000, attracting up to 7.5 million visitors a year, primarily from China, former Queenstown Lakes mayor Clive Geddes said yesterday.

Speaking at a Queenstown Chamber of Commerce business lunch, part of the 2014 Queenstown Winter Festival, discussing what tourism in the resort may look like in 40 years, Mr Geddes said residents and business people needed to understand what would happen globally to prepare for what lay ahead.

''It's always been the case for Queenstown that it will understand its own problems and it will solve them and it will do so successfully and on a basis that's ongoing.

''The population when I arrived here was 4000, tourist season was from October to May and there was nothing from May to September.

''We had two-hour lunchtimes in the only cafe, retired to one of the three pubs - there are now 100 - about 4pm and drove home at 10.15pm.

''There were about 200,000 tourists, most arrived by bus and the predominant market was Australians.

''The most exciting thing you could do was the Shotover Jet; the only rafting trip was run by Contiki Rafts.

''We've moved on from there.''

Progress since then had been largely driven by global events, which would continue to be the driving force, he said.

Among his predictions were the world population would ''at least double'' which would bring problems, particularly in terms of employment.

Mr Geddes also believed China would become ''the dominant economy ... of the 21st century''.

''Each decade, China lifts 250 million people out of poverty. It will continue to do that until `poverty' is a historical word for the Chinese.''

That would increase the number of Chinese visitors globally, who would become the ''spending force'' of the world.

''A pessimist might say the future of New Zealand is as China's dairy farm and Chinese holiday parks. You have got to get your head around it.''

The challenge would be maximising opportunities for Chinese visitors, without compromising the visitor experience for others, or the natural environment.

The sold-out luncheon was attended by members of the Queenstown business community who also heard from Associate Tourism Minister Todd McClay, Ed Hyde, of Telecom, and Laura Maxwell-Hansen, of the Radio Network.