Winter Pride keen to expand reach

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Organisers of the eight-day Winter Pride festival in Queenstown want to extend the festival to Wanaka and other towns in Central Otago.

Martin King and Michael Hughes purchased the festival, formerly called Gay Ski Week, in January.

They had had three festival days at Cardrona skifield, but were keen to expand.

“We really want to grow the festival across the region and we are really, really keen to engage Wanaka more in the festival.”

“As we see the festival grow – which it is growing – we want to bring more and more people into it and expand the reach and hopefully the economic impact of it, so it’s not just Queenstown-centric.”

Mr King said thousands came for the festival. He estimated it brought $8 million to $10 million into Queenstown and said he saw potential for Wanaka to benefit as well.

Figures from last year’s festival indicated 45% of visitors were from Australia, 45% from other parts of New Zealand and 10% outside Australasia, he said.

International visitors obviously saw Queenstown as the ideal place to fly to.

However, with large numbers coming from other parts of New Zealand as well, there were opportunities for towns across Central Otago to benefit from the festival, he said.

“People do come from all corners of New Zealand, which is pretty amazing.”

Skiing was a great part of it but “obviously the region offers so much more, from wine tasting to mountain biking to hiking to jet-boating.”

Food and wine from the region was seen in a very good light and those activities were growing well, Mr King said.

Next year there were plans to extend to more events outside Queenstown, including activities at Treble Cone and Cardrona Distillery, and they were discussing a “Wanaka adventure day” and a hike to Roys Peak.

Activities taking place in Central Otago were also on the cards, Mr King said.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t do something in Cromwell. There is lots of opportunities for expansion, for sure,” Mr King said.

Tourism Central Otago general manager Glenys Coughlan said events such as “Winter Pride” were a great fit with their new tourism strategy.

“The strategy includes .. new projects and initiatives that are designed to grow the value of the visitor industry to Central Otago, including creating, growing and attracting more events to the region.

“Plus we are interested in developing opportunities that will enable us to better spread visitation across our four distinctly different seasons, with lifting arrivals in the winter months being a particular priority.”