The absence of wealthy foreign tourists has affected the adult entertainment industry in Queenstown. Photo file / Michael Armadeus, Unsplash
The absence of wealthy foreign tourists has affected the adult entertainment industry in Queenstown, as New Zealanders are unwilling to spend a fortune.
Indulge Me NZ owner Antonia Davison-McDonald said her striptease company had lost 80 percent of bookings due to Covid-19.
Australians at bachelor parties, hen parties and men’s weekends will use the agency to hire topless waiters and order striptease by men or women.
The lack of bookings means five of its staff have moved away from Queenstown as they can no longer afford to live there.
Davison-McDonald said its staff work for Indulge Me NZ as side jobs to help pay their rent or fund their lifestyle, and in some cases the pandemic has meant they have lost their main job.
He and others in the wider adult industry say Christmas tends to be a quiet time, but his business is still recovering from a loss of revenue in August – usually the busiest time.
“This year has been very bad; last August we had 26 bookings and this year we got five.”
Small groups of wealthy Australians are usually paid to have women work on the large properties they rent, while New Zealanders book fewer staff and for less time.
However, Bon Ton’s high-end escort business has decided to open in Queenstown.
Jennifer Souness, who started an agency in Wellington, said without COVID-19 she would have no problem with demand, but wealthy foreign tourists are prohibited by restrictions so her business doesn’t accept bookings until September.
After initially struggling to recruit due to advertising problems with Trade Me, he received numerous applications from “sex-loving” women who wanted to earn money, but Christmas proved lean.
“Talking to my friends who have agencies in different cities, they told me that business is good, but Queenstown is different.”
He felt the transtasman bubble would be “big,” because his company didn’t want to serve the mass market.
An independent chaperone, who did not wish to be named, said he has had a steady number of clients since moving to Queenstown in November, mainly from the older population.
New Zealand’s Sex Workers’ Collective national coordinator Dame Catherine Healy said sex workers were generally made difficult in Queenstown through “hostile regulations” that were incompatible with other countries, and that few sex workers remained.
He said the sex workers continued to tour the South Island, including Queenstown, but stayed only a few days while proactively seeking clients.
“It is business as usual, but Queenstown is a tourist town so sex workers will rely on domestic men to visit them.”
Dame Catherine said the regulations, which generally prohibit brothels, created “a potentially very threatening situation”.
However, he did thank the Queenstown police for making sex worker safety a priority.
The last old brothel in Queenstown closed in 2008, although illegal ones have been discovered since then.
The Brothel Control Bylaw 2017 prohibits brothels from being on or under the ground floor of a building, within 100m of other brothels or in certain areas of Queenstown and CBD Wanaka.