Flower show needs council cash

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014

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The head of the Ellerslie Flower Show says the Christchurch City Council needs to pour more money into the event for it to reach its potential.

Show managing director David Mee's call for more money comes after flat ticket sales at last week's event and a loss of $325,000 last year.

Mee said most big events in New Zealand were financially supported by the local council. Ellerslie operated with an annual budget of about $3 million, made up from ticket sales, show retail sales and sponsorship.

The council only incurred a cost when the show made a loss.

Mee said the council needed to invest in leveraging Ellerslie as a tourist attraction and maximising what it could bring to Christchurch.

"The show does more than just the five days for Christchurch," he said.

"If they want the show, they should invest. At the moment that's not happening."

Mee said it was likely the negative reviews of last year's show had affected ticket sales this year, but he thought the improvements made to the show would translate into better ticket sales in 2015.

The council would be reviewing the show's future in Christchurch within 10 weeks.

Canterbury Horticultural Society president Elizabeth Peacock said the novelty of Ellerslie had worn off.

"I'd love to say yes, it has a future," she said.

"But to have one five-day show losing $300,000, you have to ask if our city can sustain that."

Peacock said it was difficult to attract younger people to the show and to gardening in general, which gave it a limited target market each year.

City councillors were waiting on the detailed report of the show's finances before making any comment on its future in Christchurch.

The review would be presented to council by its marketing and events manager, Richard Stokes, and would include visitor satisfaction reports and financial details.

Cr Yani Johanson said councillors should be approaching the process with an open mind.

"The council paid a significant amount for it, and it's important to know if we're getting what we paid for," he said.

Cr Pauline Cotter said she would like to see it stay but only if it could stand on its own two feet.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she would not comment on the show's future until a full report was received.

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- The Press

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