'Scaremongering' over airport, mayor says

Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
The Queenstown Lakes Mayor has accused the Wanaka Stakeholders Group of ''scaremongering'' over claims Wanaka will be at risk of overtourism if the proposed redevelopment and expansion of the Wanaka airport goes ahead.

Jim Boult was responding to a letter the group's chairman, Michael Ross, sent to Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones on July 22.

In the letter, Mr Ross raised concerns over a second major commercial airport being developed in the district, saying it was now a national issue.

Yesterday Mr Boult wrote to Mr Ross saying some of the comments made in the letter were inaccurate.

''You continue to align any concept of developing the Wanaka airport with tourism and personal predictions of over-tourism in the Upper Clutha.

''I can understand for those who see any increase in tourism as detrimental to their lifestyle that proposed commercial flights might create some anxiety, though at present most tourists manage to find Wanaka by car anyway.

''However, by any objective measure, Wanaka is at little risk of overtourism and to connect the two matters I would suggest is simply scaremongering.''

Mr Boult said the case for developing Wanaka Airport was predicated on local demand and it was logical the community should provide for that.

''Increasingly, connectivity is a major foundation in any community's future wellbeing,'' he said.

''The airports across the district are strategic pieces of infrastructure and timely investment in these is important to support the economic and social wellbeing of residents, businesses and visitors alike.

''This district has seen the effects of a lack of investment in the past and is committed to ensuring that is not repeated.''

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