Look elsewhere during Amway’s Queenstown visit

Tourism New Zealand's answer to a potential hotel bed shortage in Queenstown is simple: find an alternative holiday destination.

The comment comes as the Otago Daily Times questioned whether a 10,000-strong Chinese Amway incentive group visit, announced by the Government on Wednesday evening, could result in bed shortages for other tourists.

"Potential visitors who are unable to find accommodation in Queenstown at a time or price that meets their needs could consider a holiday at an alternative time of year, or in an alternative region,'' general manager of Tourism New Zealand Deborah Gray said yesterday, in an email response.

The deal, worth an estimated $50 million, was announced by Prime Minister John Key in Shanghai.

Mr Key was unavailable for comment yesterday as he was flying back from China.

Miss Gray said details and logistics around the visits, planned in autumn 2018, were yet to be confirmed.

Amway staff would arrive in waves of 500 in order to manage the volume, she said.

Tourism Industry Association Queenstown hotels regional chairman Brian Howie said it would act as a boost to the resort's shoulder season.

"It's certainly good news for Queenstown and the Wakatipu region, as a whole, for all hoteliers and accommodation providers. Wherever the group end up, there will be displacement from those hotels to other providers.''

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the resort would not find it difficult to absorb the additional visitor numbers.

"That is why they have chosen to come off-peak. That is very deliberate. We get nearly 3 million visitors in Queenstown each year. We can absolutely accommodate them in terms of numbers.''

Questioned on demands on infrastructure, he said this programme would not exacerbate existing problems but admitted issues needed to be addressed. Looking specifically at transport concerns, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said the impact on roads would be minimal.

Visitors would use group transport, rather than self-drive vehicles.

However, Salvation Army community worker Hine Marchand questioned how the $50 million investment would help those most in need in the resort and those who "man the town''.

She said those who service the tourist industry were struggling to find accommodation and live on Queenstown wages.

This week alone, Salvation Army has been made aware of seven families facing eviction from long-term rental accommodation.

She was concerned investment in tourism was not filtering down to ordinary workers.

"It is one thing to inject that money into the centre but what exactly will that look like for our community? If they use it to fix accommodation for workers, then that's fine. If not, we are looking to solve the problem in the wrong direction.''

As a Queenstown local of 38 years she was concerned about the accommodation sector.

"Stress levels are so high for those moving out of their homes, trying to make ends meet each week. These are the people that hold this town together. Have the government agencies considered them in this announcement?''

- Louise Scott 

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