Jewel of the South
February 18 2019 by Paul Earnshaw, Owner of @cyclehigher
Oh Queenstown, where every night is a Friday, every day is a Saturday and every morning is a Monday…
What is to become of this jewel of the south? One of NZ’s ‘most exciting and beautiful destinations’ and the Southern Hemisphere’s premier adventure destination, where the rent and the cost of living is so high that local innovation is being stifled.
What kind of future for Queenstown are we creating, when workers can’t afford to live here and local businesses can’t afford to operate?
How sustainable is Queenstown when a large percentage of the visitors who come here are buying products that are made in their own country (quite probably with zero environmental concerns, by under-age workers in sweatshop conditions) to take back to their home country. If it has an NZ flag, a silver fern or some other Kiwiana emblem on it, it’s Kiwi, right?
Wrong, so wrong, on so many levels.
Home-grown innovation is being stifled by an influx of cheap, overseas-made products and suffocated by exorbitant rent and rates increases.
We’re not California-based tech start-ups with investor angels who swoop into the local market and flout local laws or persuade the national government to change the laws to suit our operating model (looking at you, Uber) or not pay taxes because our fancy lawyers have us registered in the Bermuda Islands/ Ireland/ Panama.
We live locally, we are part of this community, we pay our taxes in this country and we care about the unmitigated growth of Queenstown at all costs. We understand Queenstown and want build a positive, sustainable future for our home town in a way that no big-box, overseas-owned company ever will. But it’s hard and it gets harder each day. Eventually, all the owner-operators and small local businesses will give up and close only to be replaced by overseas-owned chain stores who can afford to have a loss-making store in Queenstown because they have 473 stores around the world selling the same product.
Is this the homogenised Queenstown we really want? The mountains may still tower over us and invite us to play in/ on/ around them, the heart of the monster Matua may still cause the lake to rise and fall and the sunsets will still look amazing on the ‘Gram but look around closer and the environmental degradation will be a lot worse, the business innovation will have headed elsewhere and the Queenstown owned and run businesses will be as easy to find as a Moa.
Owner of @cyclehigher