Big loss to Queenstown from cancellations

NZ Open tournament director Michael Glading. Photo: Mountain Scene
NZ Open tournament director Michael Glading. Photo: Mountain Scene
Two major events scheduled for Queenstown next month — pulled last week — equate to an economic loss of close to $8 million.

Meantime, the NZ Sotheby’s International Queenstown Marathon, which injects another $10m into the economy, is hanging in the balance, with a spokesperson saying they’re ‘‘still working through options for the event’’.

The NZ Open was canned last Tuesday — its tournament director Michael Glading says the last time it was held, in 2020, it brought in $3.7m of quantifiable economic benefit for Queenstown hospo and accommodation providers.

‘‘People that go to the vineyards and people go bungy jumping and people that go on jetboats — that’s not included in that figure … I think we can probably guesstimate that it’s probably close to $5m,” Glading says.

He’s conscious of the “terrible” impact on the region but also on the tournament’s suppliers by making the call they have.

“Without naming names, I mean, we do have suppliers who … this could well push them out of business and it’s awful, it’s really awful.”

Motatapu co-owner Craig Gallagher, who also works on other events, says he’s seen past events give businesses enough of a boost to cover a month’s rent and staff costs.

He estimates the Motatapu, also last held in ’20, brings in up to $2.6m in economic benefit.

Hospitality NZ Queenstown regional manager Darelle Jenkins says the hospo sector’s already been battered by the Red setting.

“It’s disappointing for our industry to have these cancellations considering the sacrifices they’ve made to get to this point,” Jenkins says.

“The Red traffic light is worse than lockdown for hospitality and accommodation operators — customers are staying away and there is no government support.”

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce boss Ruth Stokes says March was supposed to be the “shining light” for Queenstown business, but now, the “major drawcards” for domestic tourism have been cancelled.

“The government talked about targeted support for those industries that were most affected, but we haven’t seen that come through.

“With tourism and hospitality vouchers only available in Auckland … it’s not looking promising.

“People have tried really hard to hang on, and want to be there when we do reopen, and the damage that [government] are doing to the New Zealand brand — I would like to see them appreciate that.”

Motatapu latest Red victim

The Macpac Motatapu has been canned for the second consecutive year.

The decision’s been made due to restrictions under the Red light setting, Motatapu co-owner Craig Gallagher says.

“[We] tried to work through a few different plans and after consulting with MBIE directly on those plans and retweaking and reforming them … we thought we had something.

“Sadly, with the number of people we have, it was just getting too much and too hard.’’

Gallagher says he’s “deeply disappointed” to be cancelling the event two years running, but believes people will still travel to Queenstown that weekend and do their own running or biking missions, ‘‘which is great, and obviously that will help the district’’.

Entries from this year’s event can roll over to next year, or 70% of the entry fee can be refunded.

Gallagher says the Motatapu’s now being planned for March 4, 2023 — which is already shaping up to be a boomer weekend for the Whakatipu.

On Tuesday the NZ Open golf tournament announced it, too, had to put on the red light for the tourney, due to the Red setting.

The 102nd edition of the Open’s now scheduled for March 2 to 5 at Millbrook Resort, to include a full field of players from the PGA Tour of Australia, and the Asian and Japanese Tours.