Ellerslie ticket sales flat despite rejig

Flower show struggles to pull in punters

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014
 A man carries a palm away after the Ellerslie Flower Show
POT A BARGAIN: A man carries a palm away after the Ellerslie Flower Show ''great sell off''.

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The Ellerslie Flower Show has improved, but the punters still aren't attending in big numbers.

Although feedback from the show indicates the tide of public opinion has been turned, early estimates of ticket sales suggest the positive response has not translated into more ticket sales than the previous two years.

The show was bought for $3 million in 2007 and in 2009, its first year, made $225,000 profit with 75,000 visitors.

By last year, visitor numbers had sunk to 45,000 and the show ran at a loss of $325,000. Less than half of last year's visitors said the show met their expectations.

This year's event was regarded as make-or-break. If the show did not perform, its future in Christchurch appeared under threat.

Preliminary numbers for this year's show suggest ticket sales were only "slightly above" last year's 44,500.

Managing director Dave Mee said it was too early to give estimates of this year's turnout, but that it felt "reasonably similar" to last year's numbers.

"I'd like to think we are in and around the same, or a bit better," he said.

But Mee said the team had been "blown away" by the positive feedback to the show. He thought that feedback would carry on to boost next year's numbers, but may not have been enough to lift visitor attendance this year.

"That is often what happens with shows," he said. "We've done all we can."

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the feedback she had received was that the show was "brilliant" and that organisers had taken heed of last year's criticisms.

Because Dalziel was unable to attend, Councillor Ali Jones stepped in as "stunt double" for the opening evening.

Jones said there was "no doubt" the event organisers had stepped up in response to criticisms. "I think they have got it 100 per cent."

She said the general chatter was a good way of gauging the public's reaction, and that all the talk had been "really positive".

"I can't see how the figures can't be up on last year."

Canterbury Horticultural Society president Elizabeth Peacock told The Press in August that the society was considering not exhibiting this year after last year's event. But this year she felt that the organisers had "really stepped up to the mark" and produced a "beautiful show".

ELLERSLIE NUMBERS

Attendance numbers at the Ellerslie Flower Show: 2009 75,000 2010 55,000 2011 Cancelled 2012 45,000 2013 45,000 

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- The Press

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