NZ Ski, resort to benefit from grant

Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson
Millions of dollars is set to come from a tourism project supported by the Government.

Prime Minister John Key has announced a $250,000 contribution to an NZSki Ltd project which aims to generate an extra $15 million of snow holiday expenditure and $181 million of wider economic gains.

Much of that cash will flow into Queenstown, given two of the three skifields managed by the company are Coronet Peak and the Remarkables.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said he was ''thrilled'' the company had been selected by the Government for funding.

He said the ''e-commerce'' project aimed to get another 160,000 Australians to book ski holidays in Queenstown and Methven.

And the majority of extra business would go to Queenstown because the Australian market share was five times larger in the resort.

''The Australian market represents about 50% at Coronet Peak and the Remarkables, and about 10% at Mt Hutt. We think this project will push the Australian share to between 55% and 60% in Queenstown,'' he said.

Mr Anderson said research by Statistics New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand showed the revenue companies such as NZSki received from overseas snow sports tourists could be multiplied by about 10 in relation to how much those visitors spent on travel, accommodation and retail goods.

''So we're talking 90% of it going towards those other sectors of the economy,'' he said.

NZSki has committed $450,000 to its project, the creation of an online service for Australians interested in New Zealand snow sports holidays.

Mr Anderson said the company's new Virtual Guest Services Platform would make it easier for people to understand the ''complex'' process of planning and booking suitable itineraries.

Customised bookings based on user-specific attributes such as age, skill level and family size would provide tourists the same level of service offered by face-to-face interaction.

''So visitors will have a much better experience when they're here, because they've brought the right products. And it will allow us to plan much better, knowing more about how many people are coming and when, and what they need,'' he said.

That could see the company better manage its staffing levels to suit bookings.

''By trying to encourage a larger level of pre-commitment, we will know things like how many ski instructors we need on a certain day and can get better productivity out of the staff,'' Mr Anderson said.

The system is being developed in conjunction with fellow Queenstown company Intouch Intelligence Ltd, increasing the project's value to the resort.

''They developed the system we use in our lifts, and this will help build their expertise in this area as well,'' Mr Anderson said.

Other projects to receive Government funding include cycling and adventure park developments in Christchurch and Rotorua, initiatives to boost Chinese tourism nationwide, and a new accommodation distribution service.

Mr Key made the funding announcements in Auckland yesterday at Trenz, New Zealand's largest tourism conference.

He said the Government would allocate $32 million to innovative tourism projects over four years.

In the first round, a total of $3.84 million was awarded, to boost the $23 million pledged by the tourism industry.

''We're pretty excited by the fact that for every dollar the Government's investing in these projects, about $6 is being invested by the sector. There's a large regional spread, with benefits going to some smaller areas,'' Mr Key said.

The Government received 57 applications in the first funding round, and Mr Key said successful applicants of the second round would be announced later this year.

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