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Backlash from Queenstown’s business community has forced the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce to find an alternative venue for a July networking event.
The chamber had announced on social media "it’s time to celebrate", with an advertisement for its first post-Covid event, to be held at The Grille by Eichardt’s on July 1.
The restaurant is owned by Christchurch-born millionaire Andrew Cox, who through separate company Adventium Technology Group, ran up debts of $9.6 million worldwide.
As previously reported, more than $1 million is owed to Queenstown businesses.
Angry chamber members took to Facebook to make their feelings known and described the venue choice as "wrong".
Glenorchy High Country Horses is owed more than $30,000 and owner Deana Insley told the Otago Daily Times it was "a kick in the teeth".
She said she had contacted the chamber to say it was like "rubbing salt in the wounds for a lot of suppliers who have been duped by this guy".
"There are so many conference places around Queenstown that need help and the one place they chose is the place that has wiped its feet on us, which I think is just horrific."
Skytrek co-owner Shi Lanuel, who is owed tens of thousands of dollars by Adventium, called the decision "insensitive" and said it must have been an accident.
By yesterday afternoon, Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chairman Craig Douglas said the chamber had reluctantly agreed with Eichardt’s to find an alternative host.
"It is understandable there are some pretty deep feelings from businesses that are owed money, but it’s disappointing people chose to air those feeling publicly."
He said Eichardt’s was run separately to Adventium and it was "a shame" the staff at the hotel and restaurant could not "continue to host without bringing all of this ill feeling to the forefront".