Cox money trickling back

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By MATTHEW MCKEW

Unexpected repayments have been gratefully received by Wakatipu businesses caught out by struggling tourism wholesaler Website Travel.

But others remain unpaid and it means a burning hole in their pocket with the government wage subsidy expiring from this week onwards.

Website Travel hit international headlines in the peak of the pandemic outbreak when the proverbial hit the fan for the tourism giant, owned by Christchurch-born and Aussie-based multi-millionaire Andrew Cox.

Adventium Technology Group, the parent company, first signalled its money woes in April,
needing to raise $12.5 million capital to get back on its feet.

The firm, which acts as the middle-man between tourism operators, high-street salespeople and customers, had worked on a negative capital model — something later slammed by former Mount Cook Group manager Jules Tapper as being a ‘‘rort’’.

Mountain Scene’s been keeping a close eye on the situation since uncovering the debt to Wakatipu businesses runs into the millions.

Cox agreed to speak with Scene on August 4, when businesses first discovered they’d been
paid back seemingly random sums owed, but then suddenly went silent.

Queenstown’s Shotover Canyon Swing co-owner Hamish Emerson says just over half the money they were owed appeared in the bank one day.

‘‘We’re very pleased and it gives us a bit of hope.

‘‘I know some people have got the whole thing paid off and I know some have got nothing paid off.’’

The cash boost came at an opportune time.

Emerson says the Auckland lockdown hit business hard.

Despite the promise of an interview a month ago, only Cox’s media spokesman replied to
Scene inquiries this week.

He says the company’s conscious of the ‘‘potential for a good news story’’.

But they want to make sure everyone’s repaid before commenting.

Glenorchy High Country Horses owner Deana Insley says she’s not received ‘‘a bean’’.\

On the other hand, Remarkable Scenic Tours says they’ve been repaid.

Jetboat operator KJet’s got half the money it’s owed back.

Its owner, Shaun Kelly, says he’s ‘‘quietly confident’’ the rest will come.

Cox, through the Imperium Capital Group, also owns Eichardt’s Private Hotel, on Queenstown’s waterfront.

A night there can cost almost $7000.

Cox’s PR man says, despite offers, the hotel’s not for sale.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz