Government handout rejected

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By MATTHEW MCKEW

NZSki’s said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the government after being offered just $500,000 of
the $2.7 million it asked for.

Chief executive Paul Anderson says the company behind Coronet Peak, The Remarks and
Mt Hutt’s ‘‘grateful’’ but ‘‘respectfully declined’’ the offer that also came attached with a
$6.6m loan from the government’s strategic asset protection programme (STAPP) fund.

Anderson: ‘‘We had said if we received the $2.7m that would allow us to open Remarkables
seven days a week and increase our marketing spend, particularly into Australia.

‘‘But with $500,000 we didn’t feel we would be able to do that … and we didn’t want to take the money and not offer anything back.’’

NZSki originally applied for $7.5m on the grounds it’s a major drawcard to the area and
thereby qualifies as a strategic asset.

The request was revised after a bumper school holiday, an injection of $2.4m from the
wage subsidy extension and relief from Department of Conservation fees.

Nonetheless, Anderson says: ‘‘We definitely meet the requirement, our revenue is
significantly down and we will be running a bottom line loss this year.’’

The ski boss says STAPP funding’s supposed to be ‘‘funding of last resort’’.

So they rejected the attached loan because money’s available from parent company Trojan
Holdings and the banks.

He rejects any notion NZSki was put off by negative reactions to AJ Hackett Bungy receiving up to $10.2m under the scheme.

Anderson says it’s an ‘‘uncertain time’’ and they’re still talking to the government about the potential for future funding, should business lag.

He further admits there’s little need to open both mountains in Queenstown this year, with fewer visitors to the resort.

The company’s employing 597 people this year, plus casuals, down from a usual 1250 staff.

Despite the successful school holidays, where Kiwis made up for the Aussies that normally
account for 40% of the market, Anderson says the two weeks were a small window in a long season.

He says day passes have already fallen by 25% since the Auckland lockdown and he’s expecting further problems as long as Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz