A recent delegation to Aspen has highlighted a growing emphasis by community and business leaders to learn what we can from other resort towns that have experienced or are still experiencing growing pains on their journey to maturity.
They are definitely not the first to surmise we can learn a thing or two from other destinations afflicted with the fortunate disease of global desirability. Nor do I believe they are wrong in thinking there are valuable ideas we can glean from other resorts.
However the one lesson that hasn't been overtly alluded to in any forceful or meaningful way is that Queenstown does not in my eyes want to be Aspen or Whistler.
Queenstown is unique, there is no place like us and nor should we strive to emulate or copy anyone.
We don't have a $4 million average housing price and our workers aren't bussed from distant service towns to tend to the interests of the absentee elite and opulent, while having no say in our community.
Queenstown has a unique urban cultural atmosphere. We shouldn't seek to replace our melting pot of diversity, which crosses cultures, as well demographic and economic boundaries, with a sterility of exclusive elitist protectionism.
We want to drive higher-value tourism but we can't afford to damage or lose the spirit of our alpine village and its atmosphere, which is bred from a diversity of people intermingling.
We need our workers, as well as visitors, in the CBD. We need all types of tourists, from Scandinavian backpackers to Russian oligarchs, and we need young families, as well as retirees, to have a home in our district.
It's often forgotten that Queenstown is not the only place with beautiful scenery, skifields, lakes, and rivers you can jetboat and raft down. What makes Queenstown unique is not our natural capital but our people and what we have done with it.
The people have crafted a world-class, four-season resort with more diversity of activities and attractions than any other place on earth.
This culture of adventure, innovation and the passion for pushing new frontiers is what has created world-leading tourist attractions, supported by a diverse array of quality hospitality and retail experiences and encouraged many innovative local businesses to excel in the global marketplace.
Many of those wanting to put the fence up, halt growth and create an elitist, high-value resort are, in fact, like me - migrants to Queenstown over the last 20 or 30 years.
I'm not saying we haven't got huge, acute challenges to solve in managing our growth, but the issues are surmountable and we need to be bold and creative in solving them. We need to choose our own future for Queenstown and refuse to accept "no" for an answer.
The next iteration of community leadership has a hell of a job ahead. However, with the right direction, support and endeavour we can forge our own unique path.
Let's do it our way, like we always have.
Mark writes a regular column for the Mountain Scene to view the original click HERE
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