NZ’s Queenstown Lakes to pioneer tourism research

A team of experts in New Zealand’s Queenstown Lakes will develop a cutting-edge visitation model for optimal tourism management.

The innovative tourism project aimed at understanding optimal visitation patterns in the Queenstown Lakes region has been launched with the appointment of a top-tier research team.

The Destination Southern Lakes (DSL) board oversees the region’s destination management plan and has selected Griffith University to lead the pioneering initiative.

The project is a crucial component of Queenstown Lakes’ destination management strategy and will enable informed decision-making across the district.

DSL chair Murray Strong says understanding optimal visitation is groundbreaking work.

“At present, no comprehensive models can guide and establish variables in relation to the social, cultural environmental and economic limits of visitation levels,” he says.

“Queenstown Lakes is a high-growth district with an economy dominated by tourism. With a small resident population and high visitor numbers, understanding the implications of visitation is essential for making good decisions and achieving positive outcomes to meet the community’s needs.”

Tourism is the cornerstone of the Queenstown Lakes economy, significantly boosting regional GDP and enhancing recreational infrastructure, experiences and cultural diversity. This new project aims to ensure future tourism is planned in a sustainable and resilient way, benefiting the community, environment and industry.

“Visitation in the district needs to be analysed in conjunction with residential growth, community sentiment, worker experience, visitor experience, seasonal changes, environmental degradation/regeneration and cultural context,” says Strong.

“This project is integral to taking a ‘systems approach’ towards destination management and supporting sustainable economic growth.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council has managed the procurement process on behalf of DSL and will be part of the steering group overseeing the project, along with the district’s regional tourism organisations, Destination Queenstown and Lake Wānaka Tourism.

Although the model is tailored for the Queenstown Lakes district, DSL aims to create a prototype that can be shared with other destinations in New Zealand and globally, and support the broader goal of promoting regenerative tourism.


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