Bikers bringing in the millions

Hard at it: Queenstown Mountain Bike Club volunteers work on a trail

Queenstown Mountain Bike Club is using an economic impact report to try and wangle cash from City Hall.

The study, commissioned by the club, shows riders using its trails are spending a whopping $65 million annually.

The Tourism Recreation Conservation stats also show that of the $65m, $60m is spent by visitors, thought to number about 55,000. The hand-dug tracks and jump parks generate $25m in wages and profits for the region, and directly create nearly 300 jobs.

Club president Jimmy Carling says a handout should be a no-brainer for council bods.

His beef is that some funding requests have been declined.

The council coughed up for the $12,000 report, but about $37,000 over 10 years is described as poor.

“The Trails Trust and the Mountain Bike Club – the end goal is very much aligned and mutual but they were receiving to the tune of $300,000 a year and we aren’t getting anything.

“It became important for us to have a study done to say ‘right, this is $25m net for Queenstown’.”

It isn’t a case of sour grapes – they support their Trails Trust counterparts.

But, they say, it’s time council did more.

The club spends $100,000 a year building and maintaining its trail network and jump parks, which it leases from council for free.

That’s raised through membership fees, merchandise sales, donations and annual fundraisers.

Carling says the number of riders living in and visiting the resort over the past decade has been steadily increasing.

“Whilst this growth has been happening, we’ve largely been getting denied funding from council, and of course we are building things that are assets to the community and the area.”

Council comms man Jimmy Sygrove says it has a huge respect for what the club does.

“We appreciate what it brings to Queenstown. They have a submission for funding in, as part of the annual plan, and that process is currently under way.”

Carling hopes the new figures will boost its case.

He has no idea how the numbers were crunched, but says club members have been surprised by the economist’s figures.

While it’s good news for the resort, more pedals on paths is putting pressure on the trails.

The club’s asked for $100,000 for trail maintenance and development, and wants to employ two part-timers.

The plea for funds comes with a promise – the club will continue to fundraise.

“We’ve almost become our own worst enemy because we had nothing except a bunch of passionate people.

“We have done a lot … [but] you can only achieve so much with people donating their spare time.”