Easy liquor licences not a good look

The increasing number of liquor licences granted in Queenstown is tarnishing the resort town's image, a report released this morning says.

The 2013 Hospitality Report, prepared by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and the Auckland University of Technology, provided a regional spotlight on Queenstown which found it had the highest number of liquor licences per capita of anywhere in New Zealand.

The total number of licences in the district grew 6% in 2010 and 18% in 2011. Although there was a 5% reduction in 2012, many operators felt there were still too many licensed establishments and their proliferation was harming Queenstown's image.

Association members surveyed said the increasing licences also increased competition which encouraged low alcohol prices and consequently, a binge-drinking culture.

Opinion among the various interested parties was divided, the report said.

While the police and the council generally believed that the number of on-licence properties did not have a harmful effect on the town if the number of patrons remained constant, some hospitality operators disagreed.

Restaurant Association Queenstown branch president Cameron Mitchell said the group's business owners felt a cap on liquor licences would have a positive effect on the image of the town.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, and its tough licensing conditions, had been welcomed by many hospitality operators.

''Selling cheap drinks and the ease of acquiring a liquor licence are things they hope will change. It will give communities a greater say over liquor outlets, set tougher rules for licence applications and could mean a change for the Queenstown bar scene,'' he said.

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