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Races bad for business

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Big Dreams
UNFAIR DISADVANTAGE: Cafe owner Bashir Ahmed says Tamaki Drive road closures are bad for business.

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Holding major sporting and recreational events along Tamaki Drive may be great exposure for the city but business owners say they lose out because of road closures.

Mecca Stonehouse co-owner Bashir Ahmed says Sundays are usually their busiest day but his cafe was empty during last weekend's Ironman 70.3 competition.

The event meant Tamaki Drive was closed between Kitemoana St and Atkin Ave from 6.30am to 12.30pm.

The eastbound lanes between Atkin Ave and Long Drive and between Ngapipi Rd and Kitemoana St were also closed with a single westbound lane open for emergency vehicles only.

"It's a killer for us," Dr Ahmed says.

"Nobody can come so we lose at least $3000 to $5000 every time they close the road."

Dr Ahmed says it's good to promote healthy living but not at the expense of people's livelihoods. He suggests shifting some events to a stadium or another part of Auckland to spread the load.

At least part of Tamaki Drive was inaccessible to motorists over the 2012 to 2013 event season, during three international events and five domestic ones.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) injected $39 million into Auckland's economy in the 2012 and 2013 financial year from a world class portfolio of major events, the general manager destination and marketing Rachael Carroll says.

"There is always a fine balance when bringing major events to Auckland and weighing up the benefits these events bring against the disruption that can be caused to a small number of people in a particular area," she says.

Mission Bay Cafe owner Mark Goldstine says it makes things tough for morning traders.

Unless an event starts or ends in Mission Bay, business is slow during events, the area's business association chairman says.

"I think it's good to have international events like the Ironman but there seem to be a lot of locally sponsored events which don't bring people into Auckland or give us any international exposure.

"Wherever they have these events there will be winners and losers but I would say more of the events don't help the cafe."

Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium general manager Philip McGowan appreciates the support provided by the organisers but events do have a significant impact on business.

"We recognise that these types of events are drawcards for the city and they bring visitors into the region, some of whom may visit Kelly Tarlton's before or after the event. It's just a challenge for us to measure the exact number of visitors the event may bring."

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Fergs Kayaks is based at Okahu Bay. Owner Ian Ferguson says it's about give and take.

"We don't like it when the roads are closed because we lose business but then again we're just lucky to be on Tamaki Drive. I guess we've just got to share it a bit."

Events like the Ironman are an asset for the city.

But perhaps they could keep the road partially open for smaller events, he says.

Scott Brown, co-owner of Cafe on Kohi and St Heliers Bay Cafe and Bistro, says there are advantages to holding international events but there is also a financial downfall.

And it doesn't just affect business owners, he says.

"Residents pay high rates and should have access to the road.

"I know a lot of our customers get frustrated that they can't enjoy the waterfront when there are multiple road closures for smaller events," Mr Brown says.

- East And Bays Courier

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