Influx of 10,000 Chinese tourists to fill Queenstown's lull periods
Queenstown hoteliers are in for "super-duper" autumns by 2018 as an influx of Chinese tourists kickstarts growth during the quieter months, but raises concerns the town's capacity will be tested.
A contract between the Government and Amway China will see the company's top sales people flown to New Zealand as a reward for hard work.
The deal is expected to inject $50 million into New Zealand's tourism economy. The tourists will arrive into Queenstown in groups of 500 throughout autumn 2018.
Goldridge Resort Queenstown general manager Penny Clark said autumn was traditionally a lull period in Queenstown, but that had not been the case so far in 2016.
Early indications suggested Queenstown had been busier this year than in 2015.
Statistics showed overall visitor numbers were already tracking ahead of last year, with 321,734 guest nights recorded in February, up 7.5 per cent on the 299,484 recorded in the same month last year.
Clark said Queentown would have a "super-duper" autumn in 2018, and was already busy this autumn.
"We've got rooms out [of action] at Rydges, so that is impacting us now and this has been impacting us since the beginning of February."
By the time Amway's workers arrived in 2018 accommodation suppliers were "going to be struggling".
She believed Queenstown's infrastructure needed to be "looked at fairly soon" if it was to continue supporting the growth in tourist numbers.
Tourism Industry Association Queenstown hotel sector chairman Brian Howie said the influx would fill the slower shoulder period in Queenstown.
"We are busy winter and summer and this will push that [ability to cope] in the shoulder period.
"It's the shoulder seasons when we do have the potential to grow. I think the news that this group is coming is positive," Howie said.
The Amway tourists would head to Queenstown in groups of 500 during the shoulder and off-peak tourism season. Their holidays would be spread over four months in autumn.
Through 2015, overall visitor numbers were at their lowest as Queenstown entered its bustling winter months – dropping to 190,534 in May and 181,844 in June.
The following month, in July 2015, tourist numbers skyrocketed to 315,368.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said securing incentive business from China was a "massive win" that would spread visitors across the off-peak season, supporting employment and bringing significant economic benefit.
The 10,000 Amway employees would contribute personal spending while in the country, bringing the total even higher, he said.
"The win also sends a clear message that New Zealand is a significant player in the incentive business sector."
On her way back from China, Queenstown Lakes District Council mayor Vanessa van Uden said those travelling to Queenstown would be Amway China's elite sales representatives and they would bring a huge boost to the local economy during a traditionally quieter season.
"We supported the campaign to win Amway China's incentive business because the hotels and businesses catering to the visitor market have spare capacity at that time."
The impact on New Zealand roads would be minimal because the visitors would be on a pre-arranged itinerary and using group transport.
"Once the schedules for each group have been confirmed, we will be working with all our partner agencies to identify any pinch-points and how we can accommodate their needs while minimising the impact on our infrastructure," van Uden said.