It has been the largest incentive group to travel to New Zealand, provided an estimated economic benefit of $50 million, and it is almost over.
During six weeks Amway China has sent about 6000 people to Queenstown where they have bungy jumped; toured and flown around the region; been eating and shopping.
Arriving in 11 waves of 560 people, the groups each spent five days in the resort. The last group leaves in one week.
HQNZ managing director Rob Stewart-McDonald said there would be future benefits for Queenstown with more conference and incentive business likely to come from China and South East Asia.
“Amway are often one of the first groups to visit from that region because they have big incentive programmes and they’ve been doing this for a long time.
“Other companies will look at this and say ‘that worked well in Queenstown, it’s a spectacular place to come to, why don’t we go there?’.”
His business organised the activity programme and delivered the gala dinner events for the group after previously hosting 1500 visitors from Amway Thailand, which visited in three waves in January.
“This brings tremendous benefits to the local economy. It’s not unnoticeable that they are here but in terms of impact on core infrastructure like roads and that sort of thing – 6,5000 people come through and there won’t have been a single car put on the road.”
The incentive travellers also spent more money in the town than “average” tourists, he said.
It was disappointing the resort still did not have a specialised conference centre that would allow conferences of between 300 and 800 people to he held in Queenstown also, he said.
The economic benefit was being felt by many companies in Queenstown during the period normally known as the quiet “shoulder season” between the busy summer and winter seasons. HQNZ was one that increased its staff by 50 per cent for several months.
Nomad Safaris co-owner Amanda Gatward-Ferguson said about one-quarter of the Amway participants were taking part in a 4WD tour of the Wakatipu Basin, complete with river crossings, and that meant staff were kept on full employment for an extra month to six weeks.
Skyline Enterprises chairman Mark Quickfall said participants had a meal at Skyline and were visiting Milford via Milford Sound Scenic Flights and the Helicopter Line.
“They’ve certainly created a lot more business than we would normally handle at this time of year.”
Extra helicopters and buses had been brought in to support the tours, which had not been without drama. Some groups had to be taken by bus to Manapouri for flights when stormy weather hit Queenstown.
Queenstown Airport Corporation communications manager Jen Andrews said statistics were not available yet for April but it had been busy.
As the Amway delegates had arrived on already-scheduled commercial flights there had not been additional flights into Queenstown.
“But you do notice them because they’re a group…we’ve had a cross-airport working group looking after parking to plane and plane to parking, making sure everything flows.”
Tourism Industry Association Queenstown chairman Brian Howie said accommodation figures for April were only slightly higher than the same period in 2017, at just below 90 per cent.
They were affected by the timing of school holidays and Easter.
“Clearly the Amway business is good business. It’s incentive business which is high spending and comes in a shoulder period. Certainly we’d be keen to see more of this business.”
NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said it had been fantastic to be part of the collaborative exercise which saw each wave of Amway visitors eat a gala dinner, take chairlift rides and watch fireworks at Coronet Peak.
The company also provided transport to the mountain.
It had been an opportunity to show off the capacity and facilities available at the mountain for future Conference and Incentive groups.