Australian tourists flock to Queenstown

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Queenstown is on track for the busiest July since 2019. Photo/Supplied

Australians are arriving in Queenstown in droves and, despite constant pressure on staff – which has seen at least one hotel boss make beds for hours – the recovery of the tourism industry is underway.

Destination Queenstown’s most recent outlook, based on commercial accommodation bookings, shows Queenstown is on course for the busiest July since 2019.

Released on Friday as the Australian school holidays began, it shows occupancy hovering around 80% of available capacity over the next fortnight and dropping slightly for the rest of the month.

At this time last year, occupancy was around 55%, and in 2020 it was around 35%.

Novotel Queenstown general manager Jim Moore said they were selling nearly 90 per cent of their rooms and bookings throughout July were strong.

However, illness, including flu and Covid, made day-to-day operations difficult.

“Last weekend we were full and five housekeepers were sick… I took off my ski gear, went downstairs and made beds for the rest of the day.

“It puts pressure on everyone and the rest of the team, which is quite difficult, but we will get through it,” he said.

Republic Hospitality chief executive Blair Impey said the group, which operates 10 resort sites, said it has noticed a massive increase in business in recent weeks, with sales typically doubling on weeknights.

He said the group was “very grateful” to local residents who had been running the businesses over the past two years, meaning they were well-staffed but were also dealing with the disease. personal.

“We are not 100% able to have the full level of staff, but we are quite proud of how we have managed [it].”

Winnies was now back to a seven-day-a-week operation – at times over the past two years it had only been open four nights a week, he said.

“We had some pretty massive queues for Winnies over the weekend, which we love.

“It’s just great to have that buzz.”

Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager Nigel Kerr and Remarkables Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence said they were bracing for an even bigger influx as more Australian states start their holidays schools, and New Zealand followed suit from next weekend.

NZSki will be holding a recruitment drive at Shotover St Snow Center from 4pm until around 6pm tomorrow to try and build up the workforce.

“We don’t have enough instructors, we don’t have enough rental technicians, we don’t have enough staff, period,” Kerr said.

“With sickness and isolation [requirements]we are on the razor’s edge.”

Lawrence said they were also still waiting to take delivery of some of their new rental equipment, which was causing customer dissatisfaction.

“Some people are frustrated that they can’t get on the bus fast enough [and] when they get here, the gear is gone, and that’s not the kind of experience we want people to have at all.

“It makes things difficult.”

Impey said understanding was key for station visitors today.

“I’ve heard it’s tough in town in terms of the wait and the hustle and bustle of staff…overall people have to be patient…everyone here is trying to do their best to provide an experience of high quality.”


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