Monorail could bring $80m a year

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013

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An economic analysis of the proposed $200 million Fiordland monorail project says it could create 1000 jobs and deliver $80m a year to the economy.

Riverstone Holdings' bid to build a 29.5-kilometre-long 6-metre-wide corridor through conservation land is being considered by Conservation Minister Nick Smith, who has the final say.

The report for Riverstone, run by Bob Robertson, was prepared by Brown, Copeland & Co in Wellington to forecast the employment and income effects if the monorail gets a green light.

Robertson said it was important the public recognised the economic benefits of jobs and increased tourism spending in Fiordland.

"The estimates contained in this report are conservative. Even so, generating $80m more in export receipts and adding hundreds of permanent jobs to the economy is a significant opportunity for New Zealand."

If consented, Riverstone say the company plans a multimillion-dollar international annual marketing campaign and the monorail could attract 30,000 people a year, equivalent to $82.5m based on the average spend per visitor of $2750.

At a national level, the Fiordland Link Experience would provide more than 300 fulltime jobs or equivalent during a 2 -year construction time frame, the report said.

Once operational the project was estimated to generate an additional 747 jobs and $38.2m a year in additional income.

Robertson said 45 per cent of foreign tourists did not visit the South Island and Riverstone would target this group to extend their stay and encourage a visit to Fiordland. "If we can convince just five per cent to do so, even if only for two days, that's an extra $26m for our economy. We also hope to persuade many New Zealanders to spend a family holiday in Fiordland.

"Like any major project, we have our detractors. But we are ambitious for New Zealand and the Fiordland tourism industry. Our aim is to beat these estimates and deliver $100m in increased tourism activity every year."

Riverstone propose a tourist trip using a catamaran from Queenstown to Mt Nicholas Station, an all-terrain vehicle drive to Kiwi Burn, near the Mavora Lakes, and then a 41km monorail ride to Te Anau Downs.

Of 315 submissions to hearing commissioners, 288 opposed the proposed concession. Smith previously said a decision was possible by the end of year.

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- The Southland Times

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