$1 billion visitor spending forecast

Queenstown is "a rising star on the world stage" and its regional tourism organisation is committed to achieving $1 billion in annual visitor spend in the resort by 2015.

Destination Queenstown made the comments in its newly released draft full business plan for the years 2013 to 2015.

DQ reported the outlook for the 2012 and 2013 financial year was "more positive" for its 850 members, after Wakatipu entered an "uncertain" 2012.

Recovery from the global financial crisis appeared to have stalled in some key markets, particularly the United Kingdom and Europe, and the lingering effects were still felt from four natural disasters in 2011: the Queensland floods, Christchurch earthquake, Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the Chilean volcanic ash cloud.

DQ said it was working with Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch airports on marketing to secure more capacity into the two international gateways and then on to the resort.

"Strong interest" had been expressed by Tourism New Zealand in continuing its "significant level of partnership marketing" with DQ, the plan said.

"Another positive for Queenstown is business tourism - our conference and incentive market continues to expand and our profile as a world-class film location is attracting more production companies and film crews."

Queenstown welcomed 1.9 million visitors a year with a 52% international and 48% domestic split. Visitors spent about $800 million in the resort a year.

New Zealand and Australia were where the majority of DQ's resources would be invested over the next three years, the plan said.

Wakatipu being seen as an "exotic holiday" and easily accessible, particularly from Auckland and Wellington, were among the potential drivers underlined for domestic tourism growth.

The "exotic" appeal and how different the resort was compared with Australia were directions for transtasman marketing of Queenstown, with Adelaide and Western Australia as new potential visitor markets.

"Higher value" and repeat business was sought in Wakatipu's special interest tourism, such as snow sports, biking, golf, wine and conference and incentives.

Emerging markets, such as Asia, were likely to be the fastest growing for the resort during the three-year forecast.

However, markets within that vast region needed to be identified more specifically.

"Improved understanding by both DQ members and visitors about the diversity and suitability of experiences for the Asian market will be crucial to our success," the report said.

Queenstown was a major factor in "key forward opportunities" recognised by Tourism New Zealand, including the Asian economic boom, new aviation connections, the international travel trade show Trenz, The Hobbit feature films and the 2013 New Zealand Winter Games.

"We believe the Queenstown brand to be in good health. However, in an increasingly competitive international environment and rapidly changing source market dynamics, we need to stay ahead of holiday travel trends and motivations and match closely our proposition and messages to consumer needs," the plan said.

Funding from the Queenstown Lakes District Council over the three-year period was forecast to be $3,124,883 out of a total budget of $3,960,223 in 2011 to 2012, leaving a surplus of $55,876.

Council funding was forecast to rise slightly each financial year to $3,294,095 towards a budget of $4,164,095 in 2014 to 2015, although total costs were predicted to be higher then, at $4,444,095.

The draft plan was released late on Thursday, for members' review and feedback by April 19.

An executive summary will be presented by outgoing chief executive Tony Everitt during an industry update on Wednesday.

Ministry of Economic Development forecasts for Queenstown.
• Total visits by travellers to Queenstown are forecast to rise from 1.887 million in 2009 to 2.129 million in 2016, an increase of 12.8% (242,000), or 1.7% a year.
• International visits are expected to increase from 980,000 in 2009 to 1.232 million in 2016, representing growth of 253,000, or 25.8%. The share of total visits generated by international visitors is expected to increase from 51.9% to 57.9%.
• Domestic visits are expected to decrease from 908,000 in 2009 to 897,000 in 2016, a contraction of 11,000, or 1.2%. The share of total visits generated by domestic visitors is expected to decrease from 48.1% to 42.1%. However, Destination Queenstown targets an increase in domestic visitors to one million a year by 2015.
• Total visitor nights in Queenstown are forecast to rise from 3.689 million in 2009 to 4.307 million in 2016, an increase of 16.8% (619,000), or 2.2% a year.
• Total expenditure by visitors to Queenstown is forecast to increase from $874 million in 2009 to $1.123 billion in 2016, growth of 28.6% ($250 million), or 3.7% a year.

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