Tourism boss calls for centre

Graham Budd
Graham Budd
Queenstown's tourism boss believes the resort is missing out on "tens of millions of dollars" a year without a convention centre.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said he was preparing to enter talks with central government about a centre after a lack of one was noted by Amway officials.

More than 6000 of Amway’s top sellers from China came to Queenstown for an incentive trip in 11 waves in April and May and were hosted in a temporary marquee on Coronet Peak.

Mr Budd said many conference organisers knew Queenstown "can’t cater for their needs" in respect of a suitably-sized venue.

"So, we don’t even get the opportunity to bid for this business.

"Roughly, however, it would easily be tens of millions of dollars annually that we are missing out on."

The Queenstown Lakes District Council planned a controversial $60 million-plus facility at its Lakeview site, but could not get funding.

Mr Budd believed the case for private investment was "compelling" given the economic benefits to the Queenstown Lakes and wider region.

"We think central government could certainly play a role as they have done in other regions."

A convention centre is not included in the council’s 10-year plan and Mayor Jim Boult said the council "does not have any appetite" to put public money into one.

Remarkables Park developer Porter Group received resource consent for a centre in Frankton in  2016, but it is yet to eventuate.

However, Porter Group director Alastair Porter said a resource consent variation application would be filed within the next month to allow the proposed centre to be 20% bigger, at the request of conference organisers, and in a slightly different location, closer to the shopping centre and a proposed gondola.

He hoped to have the "multi-purpose venue" open in two years.

"I think that a conference centre on the scale of the one we’re proposing is long overdue for Queenstown," Mr Porter said.

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