Opposition to increased DQ funding

Queenstown is a popular place to visit. Photo: Getty Images
Queenstown is a popular place to visit. Photo: Getty Images

Opposition to a funding boost for the Queenstown Lakes district's regional tourism organisation was the biggest talking point at an annual plan submissions hearing yesterday.

On a morning otherwise dominated by requests by non-profit organisations for new or higher funding, criticism of extra funding proposed for Destination Queenstown (DQ) was a recurring theme.

A joint submission by the general managers of the resort's two Copthorne Hotels and Millennium Hotel was one of several that suggested the council bring the organisation in-house.

The trio of Jackie Guiney, Robert Oakes and Paul Philp said the district was so busy with tourists it did not need more promotion, particularly during the high season.

''The funding model for DQ looks either out of touch or irrelevant in relation to what it does.''

They suggested the council absorb DQ's functions or ''disassociate itself completely from it and allow the private sector to assume all of DQ's functions''.

About a quarter of the 27 submissions presented to councillors expressed opposition to the proposed one-off $900,000 injection, from July 1, which would increase DQ's annual core funding to $4.5 million.

If approved by the council next month, the extra funds would come from an increase in the council's tourism promotion levy, a targeted rate on commercial and accommodation properties.

The proposal received the backing of 79% of DQ members in a vote last month.

Glenorchy Community Association chairman John Glover said it supported DQ's focus on targeting the domestic and Australian markets, but believed its staff numbers and funding were adequate.

Glenorchy commercial landlord and accommodation provider Trish Fraser said she wanted rates funding for DQ to be significantly reduced, or preferably for the organisation to ''not exist at all''.

A former DQ board member, Doug Champion, said it had done a ''great job'' in the past. However, it had been overtaken by the rise of the internet, social media and digital booking platforms, and consequent changes in companies' marketing practices.

It needed to be restructured and placed within the council.

In his submission, DQ chief executive Graham Budd said opposition to the funding proposal appeared to be driven by concern at continuing growth in visitor numbers.

However, growth was not its priority.

''Our priority is actually to target higher-value visitors.''

DQ's most recent non-incremental funding boost was an extra $1 million in 2008.

For the past 11 years, its funding has increased at an average annual rate of 2.3%.


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