Queenstown’s business is no longer viable without international tourists

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Landlords reluctant to renegotiate leases, the number of locals moving into downtown Queenstown and the economic effects of Covid are making it harder for Cbusinesses to survive in the resort, according to a departing retailer.

David Anderson is closing the Anderson Outfitter in Queenstown, which has been in existence for 28 years at the end of March.
Photo: RNZ

After nearly 30 years in business, Queenstown retailer David Anderson is shutting down, claiming that without the constant influx of international tourists, especially Australians, and without any sign of the border reopening, staying in business no was not viable for another year.

Anderson, who is the owner-operator of the Anderson Outfitters menswear boutique in Queenstown, is shutting down at the end of the lease at the end of March, after 28 years.

Although not a tourism business, Anderson said Covid’s decimation of the country’s international tourism industry had a big impact on his business, as had the negotiation of his lease.

“The agent who works for the owner seems to think that nothing has really happened in the city and that everything is fine and it just isn’t. Queenstown was built to accommodate foreign tourists and we have need them to make it work. “

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Anderson said many landlords in Queenstown have been good to their businesses and have given rent cuts of 50%.

“These guys have been very good and will have the support of their tenants. But there are others who think they can take advantage of us and think the money is going to flow.

“They need to have a decent look at what they’re doing to the city and the businesses because, frankly, I don’t think there will be that many people lining up to start a new business in Queenstown.

“They have to realize that if we take a cut, they have to take a cut. They’ve got it pretty well and maybe they just need to look at themselves closely.”

Anderson said the border closure isn’t the only factor in Queenstown trying to survive. The large shopping malls built in recent years near the airport and Frankton have meant that locals no longer need to travel to town as often, so incidental expenses are also spent elsewhere.

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There is also the debate over the overdependence on international tourists in the city and how to change that.

“I know a lot of locals say ‘we have too many tourists and there are too many international tourists’ and that may be true, but we still need it. It’s the people who come who actually have facilitated the development of bars and city activities that people love to come to Queenstown for. “

He said that while the domestic market has been good, it is not enough to support rents and costs in the city.

“It’s time to retire and maybe I just don’t want to sit here during another cold winter in Queenstown with the doors open waiting for people to come in who are actually not there. Even some summer days we looked out on the street and there is no one there. “

He said the next few months, normally a very busy time for the city, will be tough times for many other businesses.

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“There have already been a few businesses that have already disappeared. Queenstown is making a lot of money from tourism from January to April and if it isn’t there they are going to face a pretty long winter. tough decisions. “

Anderson said calls for more financial help from the government are not the silver bullet either.

“I don’t think it’s financial aid, we’re a business and we have to deal with these things. The wage subsidy was good but quite frankly once that ended a lot of companies being fired.

“The only solution is to open the Australian border and not have to quarantine.”

Anderson, who along with his wife Diane plans to stay in the city, said he will miss the conversation with regular customers who have visited the city, shopping with him for years, especially Australian tourists.

“We might like to give the Australians a bit of a stick, but at the end of the day they are really good people to have a thread with, they are good tourists. We really miss the Australians.”

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