17 Jun 2020

Queenstown's Chamber of Commerce 'unhappy to be embroiled' in complaints

2:55 pm on 17 June 2020

Queenstown's Chamber of Commerce says it has changed a controversial meeting venue, but it is unhappy to have been dragged into a dispute by a small number of its members.


Queenstown. Photo: Unsplash / Jeff Finley

This week the chamber advertised its first event since Covid-19 devastated the town's economy, at Eichardt's The Grille.

The venue's owner Andrew Cox also owns Adventium, the parent company of Website Travel, which has suspended payments for services - and local tourism operators say he owes them thousands of dollars.

Angry feedback from tourist operators in the town forced the chamber to meet yesterday to discuss whether to change the venue.

This morning the chamber updated details of the event on its Facebook page, saying it would now held at the Blue Kanu instead.

But Craig Douglas, the chamber's chairperson believes it is not the group's role to police other businesses in the town.

"The venue will be changing, the management team at Eichardt's and the chamber were a bit unhappy to be embroiled in that sort of comment really," Douglas said.

"The number of members that gave us that feedback was very small. I'm not saying it wasn't valid for them but it certainly wasn't necessarily a majority of the members.''

While he did not diminish the concerns from its members, Douglas said: "the chamber is not in the role of calling out individuals, we're there for the business community as a whole and it's not for us to pass specific judgement on specific individuals and we won't get involved in that''.

When the event was first created on its Facebook page "there were plenty of thumbs up'', Douglas said.

He knew of people in the town who had been impacted by Cox and he himself had worked for a business that was owed money by the businessman.

But he said the chamber was "not a policeman''.

"The chamber came out very early in the Covid situation and suggested that all of its members should pay all of its bills and on time and if they were struggling to front up and to be honest about it, but that's just general business advice and I won't comment anymore on specifics.''

The chamber would have preferred if members who were unhappy with the choice of venue to have spoken with the board directly, he said.

"I fully appreciate people are really hurting and aggrieved if they are owed money by other businesses in Queenstown and that's not good enough and I'll leave it at that.''

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