Pic­ton gon­dola? For­get about it, says com­pany

Nelson Mail - - Today | News -

Franz Josef, sure. Pic­ton, no.

The com­pany be­hind gla­cial gon­dola plans on the West Coast has poured cold wa­ter on any thoughts of do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar in the ‘‘gate­way to the south’’.

Sky­line En­ter­prises, which is try­ing to push through plans for a gon­dola at Franz Josef Glacier, thinks tourist num­bers and the ap­petite for an­other scenic gon­dola just aren’t there. But yearon-year in­creases in tourist num­bers in Pic­ton due to record­break­ing cruise sea­sons, and the 780,000 an­nual ferry pas­sen­gers, have some lo­cals cling­ing to the idea.

A gon­dola up Collins Hill was the brain­child of for­mer mote­lier Eric Collins, who spent close to 30 years re­search­ing his dream be­fore drop­ping it in 2016.

There are three gon­do­las in New Zealand – in Ro­torua, Queen­stown and Christchurch. Sky­line owns the Ro­torua and Queen­stown gon­do­las, among other tourism hold­ings, and has ap­plied for con­sent to build the Franz Josef gon­dola.

Sky­line chair­man Mark Quick­fall said the growth of the cruise ship in­dus­try was prob­a­bly not enough to make a Pic­ton gon­dola eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

Tourist num­bers were the main stick­ing point for the pro­posed mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar devel­op­ment, and a fea­si­bil­ity study, com­mis­sioned by Collins, showed Pic­ton did not have the tourism in­dus­try to jus­tify the ex­pense.

Des­ti­na­tion Marl­bor­ough gen­eral man­ager Jac­qui Lloyd said she thought the gon­dola would be a ‘‘fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity’’ for the re­gion.

‘‘The lo­ca­tion is stun­ning and the views are amaz­ing.’’

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