US visitors provide boost for week

Gay Ski Week QT organisers Sally Whitewoods (left) and Mandy Whitewoods with Little Miss Cinnamon at Saturday night's opening party at The Find bar in Queenstown. Photo by Laurindo Sousa.
Gay Ski Week QT organisers Sally Whitewoods (left) and Mandy Whitewoods with Little Miss Cinnamon at Saturday night's opening party at The Find bar in Queenstown. Photo by Laurindo Sousa.
Queenstown's economy is getting a timely boost as Gay Ski Week QT brings more than a 1000 high-spenders into the resort.

Organiser Sally Whitewoods said up to 1400 visitors were loosening their wallets during a packed schedule of skiing, socialising and specially-themed events during the next few days.

Mrs Whitewoods, who with civil union partner Mandy Whitewoods rescued the event from near-financial collapse three years ago, said more women and visitors from the United States had turned up this year.

Saturday night's opening party sold out, with more than 300 people cramming into downtown bar The Find.

''That's having a knock-on effect, and people are now realising they need to get in quick to buy tickets.''

The majority of gay visitors were in the ''double-income, no-kids'' category, and tended to spend up large.

''Like anyone who goes on holiday, if they're like me, they spend far more money than they should.''

That meant the resort's hospitality, accommodation and tourist activity providers should get a boost during a ''normally quiet'' time of year.

The increase in United States visitors was a result of her marketing the event at the San Francisco Pride festival in June, as well as in two US-based magazines. However, Australians still dominated the 85% mix of international visitors, she said.

To cater for a growing number of women visitors, a female-only event featuring Queenstown singer-songwriter Tori Reed was held at the Blue Kanu restaurant last night.

In a first for Gay Ski Week, she had booked the Queenstown Memorial Hall for this Saturday night to stage what she hoped would be the biggest dance party in the resort's history.

The week's other activities include daily skiing at Cardrona Alpine Resort followed by live music, cabaret and karaoke events in the evenings.

Non-skiers can try other adventure activities such as snow shoeing on the Turnbull Range, and racing karts at the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.