Ellerslie ticket sales disappoint

19:12, Mar 12 2014

Despite a major overhaul, Christchurch's Ellerslie Flower Show attracted just 1000 more people this year than last.

Final ticket sale numbers released by the Christchurch City Council showed about 45,500 attended the show this year - 1000 up on last year, when it made a $325,000 loss.

City councillor Glenn Livingstone said he had expected ticket sales to be higher and doubted the show would survive.

"Personally, I don't think it's looking too good," he said. "I think we might be flogging a dead horse."

He said that based on ticket sales, he expected this year's show would have run at a loss.

Show managing director Dave Mee said he had hoped for a more dramatic spike in ticket sales.


"On the one hand, I'm pleased it has gone up but, on the other hand, I'd hoped it'd be more," he said.

Mee had predicted there would be only a small increase in sales before the show began, due in part, he said, to the negativity surrounding last year's event. If the show survived, he hoped next year's ticket sales would reflect the positive feedback from this year.

Mee said that compared to the size of the Christchurch population, the number of tickets sold was high.

In 2009, the show's first year in Christchurch, 75,000 tickets were sold and the show made more than $220,000 profit.

By 2010, ticket sales had dropped to 55,000 and the show lost $88,000.

Mee said every new event experienced a false high in its first year and 75,000 visitors a year later was not sustainable. He said a target of 55,000 visitors would make balancing the show's budget easier.

Mee could not yet comment on whether a loss was likely after this year's show.

Livingstone said he had long felt the event needed "turning on its head".

He proposed that Ellerslie be replaced with a show owned by the city and run in spring rather than late summer.

"I'd like a Hagley Flower Show, or Christchurch Flower Show," he said. "I can't understand why we have a show named after an Auckland suburb."

The details of the show's performance would be discussed during the course of a full review by the council within the next nine weeks.

Mee said part of the process would include the results of visitor feedback. Last year, feedback indicated the show met the expectations of fewer than half those who visited.

Mee said he expected better results this year.

"The anecdotal feedback during the show was so positive, it's hard to imagine too much negative coming out."

The Press