Tough times but council business in black

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The council-owned Queenstown Motor Park remains a nice little community earner – despite trading being tough. 

The park’s bottom line for the nine months to March was $414,000 – down $119,000 on the same period previously – yet the result is still viewed favourably by council parks manager Greg Hartshorne (right). 

“We’re more than holding our own in what is an extremely difficult marketplace,” Hartshorne says in a report to councillors. 

The figures still reflect an extremely good result under the circumstances, Hartshorne believes. 

Hartshorne says the January-March quarter was “one of ups and downs”. 

January saw “a huge resurgence” but hopes of a recovery were dashed by February figures showing “the downturn was still present”, while March only “rallied slightly”. 

Holiday park operating surpluses go partly towards repaying debt, with any remainder then going into Queenstown Lakes District Council’s general coffers to subsidise rates. 

Those debt repayments are substantial, however – Queenstown Motor Park’s interest bill for the nine months was $222,000. 

Hartshorne reveals how the park has to wheel and deal in the marketplace – a delegation specifically granted to him by the council. 

“We are very proactive on our website with weekend specials and family deals,” he reports. 

Hartshorne says he builds a wholesale margin into prices, because a high proportion of bookings come from external websites and agents wanting to offer specials while maintaining their profit percentages. 

“This built-in margin also allows us to present the travelling public with special deals during down-times when we’re competing against not only similar businesses but also the hotels doing giveaway prices,” Hartshorne notes. 

Hartshorne also reveals park prices are “loaded” for 10 days over Christmas and New Year. 

The growing bike market has blossomed with the park becoming a preferred option for the many cyclists arriving from overseas, he adds. 

Queenstown Motor Park is the star among the council’s four motor parks. 

In the same nine-month period to March, the two Wanaka parks contributed net surpluses of $306,000 – while Arrowtown incurred a loss of $162,000.